[ oh-ver-pley ]
/ ˌoʊ vərˈpleɪ /

verb (used with object)

to exaggerate or overemphasize (one's role in a play, an emotion, an effect, etc.): The young actor overplayed Hamlet shamelessly. The director of the movie had overplayed the pathos.
to put too much stress on the value or importance of: A charitable biographer had overplayed the man's piety and benevolence.
Cards. to overestimate the strength of (the cards in one's hand) with consequent loss.
Golf. to hit (the ball) past the putting green.
Archaic. outplay.

verb (used without object)

to exaggerate one's part, an effect, etc.; overact: Without a firm director she invariably overplays.

Nearby words

  1. overpass,
  2. overpay,
  3. overpeople,
  4. overpersuade,
  5. overpitch,
  6. overplus,
  7. overpopulate,
  8. overpopulated,
  9. overpopulation,
  10. overpotential

Origin of overplay

First recorded in 1640–50; over- + play

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for overplay

British Dictionary definitions for overplay


/ (ˌəʊvəˈpleɪ) /


(tr) to exaggerate the importance of
another word for overact
overplay one's hand to overestimate the worth or strength of one's position
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for overplay



"to emphasize (something) too much," 1933, a metaphor from card games, in to overplay (one's) hand, "to spoil one's hand by bidding in excess of its value" (1926), from over- + play (v.). The word was used earlier in a theatrical sense. Related: Overplayed; overplaying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper