[verb oh-ver-ruhn; noun oh-ver-ruhn]
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verb (used with object), o·ver·ran, o·ver·run, o·ver·run·ning.
  1. to rove over (a country, region, etc.); invade; ravage: a time when looting hordes had overrun the province.
  2. to swarm over in great numbers, as animals, especially vermin; infest: The house had been overrun by rats.
  3. to spread or grow rapidly over, as plants, especially vines, weeds, etc.: a garden overrun with weeds.
  4. to attack and defeat decisively, occupying and controlling the enemy's position; overwhelm.
  5. to spread rapidly throughout, as a new idea or spirit: a rekindling of scholarship that had overrun Europe.
  6. to run or go beyond, as a certain limit: The new jet overran the landing field.
  7. to exceed, as a budget or estimate: to overrun one's allotted time.
  8. to run over; overflow: During the flood season, the river overruns its banks for several miles.
  9. Printing.
    1. to print additional copies of (a book, pamphlet, etc.) in excess of the original or the usual order.
    2. to carry over (type or words) to another page.
  10. Nautical.
    1. to sail past (an intended stopping or turning point) by accident.
    2. (of a ship) to complete (a schedule of calls) more rapidly than anticipated.
  11. to outrun; overtake in running.
verb (used without object), o·ver·ran, o·ver·run, o·ver·run·ning.
  1. to run over; overflow: a stream that always overruns at springtime.
  2. to exceed the proper, desired, or normal quantity, limit, order, etc.: Do you want to overrun on this next issue?
  1. an act or instance of overrunning.
  2. an amount in excess; surplus: an overrun of 10,000 copies of a new book.
  3. the exceeding of estimated costs in design, development, and production, especially as estimated in a contract: a staggering overrun on the new fighter plane.
  4. the amount exceeded: an overrun of $500,000 for each fighter plane.
  5. a run on an item of manufacture beyond the quantity ordered by a customer and often offered at a discount.
  6. the amount by which the volume of a food, as butter or ice cream, is increased above the original volume by the inclusion of air, water, or another substance: With only a 20 percent overrun, this is an excellent ice cream.

Origin of overrun

before 900; Middle English overrennen, Old English oferyrnan. See over-, run
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for overrun


verb (ˌəʊvəˈrʌn) -runs, -running, -ran or -run
  1. (tr) to attack or invade and defeat conclusively
  2. (tr) to swarm or spread over rapidly
  3. to run over (something); overflow
  4. to extend or run beyond a limit
  5. (intr) (of an engine) to run with a closed throttle at a speed dictated by that of the vehicle it drives, as on a decline
  6. (tr)
    1. to print (a book, journal, etc) in a greater quantity than ordered
    2. to print additional copies of (a publication)
  7. (tr) printing to transfer (set type and other matter) from one column, line, or page, to another
  8. (tr) archaic to run faster than
noun (ˈəʊvəˌrʌn)
  1. the act or an instance of overrunning
  2. the amount or extent of overrunning
  3. the number of copies of a publication in excess of the quantity ordered
  4. the cleared level area at the end of an airport runway
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 overrun

Old English oferyrnan; see over- + run (v.). The noun meaning "excess expenditure over budget" is from 1956. Related: Overran; overrunning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper