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verb (used with object)
  1. to be more important or significant by comparison: For years he overshadowed his brother.
  2. to cast a shadow over; cover with shadows, clouds, darkness, etc.; darken or obscure: clouds overshadowing the moon.
  3. to make sad or hang heavily over; cast a pall on: a disappointment that overshadowed their last years.
  4. Archaic. to shelter or protect.

Origin of overshadow

before 900; Middle English overshadewen, Old English ofersceadwian. See over-, shadow
Related formso·ver·shad·ow·er, nouno·ver·shad·ow·ing·ly, adverb

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for overshadow


verb (tr)
  1. to render insignificant or less important in comparison
  2. to cast a shadow or gloom over
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 overshadow

Old English ofersceadwian "to cast a shadow over, obscure;" see over + shadow (v.). It was used to render Latin obumbrare in New Testament, as were Middle High German überschatewen, Middle Dutch overschaduwen, Gothic ufarskadwjan. Figurative sense is from 1580s. Related: Overshadowed; overshadowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper