verb (used with object)
  1. to reach or extend over or beyond: The shelf overreached the nook and had to be planed down.
  2. to go beyond, as a thing aimed at or sought: an arrow that had overreached the target.
  3. to stretch to excess, as by a straining effort: to overreach one's arm and strain a muscle.
  4. to defeat (oneself) by overdoing matters, often by excessive eagerness or cunning: In trying to promote disunity he had overreached himself.
  5. to strain or exert (oneself or itself) to the point of exceeding the purpose.
  6. to get the better of, especially by deceit or trickery; outwit: Every time you deal with them you wonder if they're overreaching you.
  7. to overtake.
  8. Obsolete. to overpower.
verb (used without object)
  1. to reach or extend over something.
  2. to reach too far: In grabbing for the rope he overreached and fell.
  3. to cheat others.
  4. (of a running or walking horse) to strike, or strike and injure, the forefoot with the hind foot.
  5. Nautical. to sail on a tack longer than is desirable or was intended; overstand.

Origin of overreach

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at over-, reach
Related formso·ver·reach·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for overreacher


  1. (tr) to defeat or thwart (oneself) by attempting to do or gain too much
  2. (tr) to aim for but miss by going too far or attempting too much
  3. to get the better of (a person) by trickery
  4. (tr) to reach or extend beyond or over
  5. (intr) to reach or go too far
  6. (intr) (of a horse) to strike the back of a forefoot with the edge of the opposite hind foot
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 overreacher



c.1300, "to reach above or beyond" (transitive), from over- + reach (v.). Meaning "to extend over something, to cover it" is from c.1400. Sense of "to reach beyond one's strength" is from 1560s. As a noun from 1550s. Related: Overreached; overreaching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper