verb (used with object), o·ver·saw, o·ver·seen, o·ver·see·ing.

to direct (work or workers); supervise; manage: He was hired to oversee the construction crews.
to see or observe secretly or unintentionally: We happened to oversee the burglar leaving the premises. He was overseen stealing the letters.
to survey or watch, as from a higher position.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for oversee

Contemporary Examples of oversee

Historical Examples of oversee

  • I tried to get him to oversee the mill for me, but, after our trouble, he refused to do anything about it.

    Wayside Courtships

    Hamlin Garland

  • He had to go away one time and he hired a white man to oversee while he was gone.

  • He used to oversee my place on the lake, and did it capitally, too.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • Take charge of the marketing, or oversee the housekeeping for a year.

    Girls and Women

    Harriet E. Paine (AKA E. Chester}

  • We will not be able to oversee the work, that is a drawback.

    The Skylark of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby

British Dictionary definitions for oversee


verb -sees, -seeing, -saw or -seen (tr)

to watch over and direct; supervise
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 oversee

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