See more synonyms for oversee on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), o·ver·saw, o·ver·seen, o·ver·see·ing.
  1. to direct (work or workers); supervise; manage: He was hired to oversee the construction crews.
  2. to see or observe secretly or unintentionally: We happened to oversee the burglar leaving the premises. He was overseen stealing the letters.
  3. to survey or watch, as from a higher position.
  4. to look over; examine; inspect.

Origin of oversee

before 900; Middle English overseen, Old English ofersēon. See over-, see1
Can be confusedoverlook oversee oversight
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for oversaw

Contemporary Examples of oversaw

Historical Examples of oversaw

  • The younger Vestals, whose attendance on the sacred fire and care of the Temple she oversaw, wondered at her exacting petulance.

    A Friend of Caesar

    William Stearns Davis

  • Mr. Templeton had two children—a son who was with Price, and a daughter who oversaw the household, the mother being dead.

  • This was no slight aid to her, and leaving the management of the helm to him, she oversaw the management of the piece herself.

  • Austin was at home in the morning and evening and oversaw their work, helping with the heavier part.

British Dictionary definitions for oversaw


verb -sees, -seeing, -saw or -seen (tr)
  1. to watch over and direct; supervise
  2. to watch secretly or accidentally
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 oversaw



Old English oferseon "to look down upon, keep watch over, survey, observe;" see over + see (v.). Meaning "to supervise" is attested from mid-15c. The verb lacks the double sense of similar overlook, but this emerges in the noun form oversight. Related: Oversaw; overseen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper