[verb oh-ver-wurk; noun oh-ver-wurk]
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cause to work too hard, too much, or too long; weary or exhaust with work (often used reflexively): Don't overwork yourself on that new job.
  2. to work up, stir up, or excite excessively: to overwork a mob to the verge of frenzy.
  3. to employ or elaborate to excess: an appeal for sympathy that has been overworked by many speakers.
  4. to work or decorate all over; decorate the surface of: white limestone overworked with inscriptions.
verb (used without object)
  1. to work too hard, too much, or too long; work to excess: You look as though you've been overworking.
  1. work beyond one's strength or capacity.
  2. extra or excessive work.

Origin of overwork

before 1000; Old English oferwyrcan. See over-, work
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for overworked

exhausted, strained, fatigued, tense, overloaded, stressed

Examples from the Web for overworked

Contemporary Examples of overworked

Historical Examples of overworked

British Dictionary definitions for overworked


verb (ˌəʊvəˈwɜːk) (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to work or cause to work too hard or too long
  2. to use too muchto overwork an excuse
  3. to decorate the surface of
  4. to work up
noun (ˈəʊvəˌwɜːk)
  1. excessive or excessively tiring work
Derived Formsoverworked, adjective
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 overworked



"to cause to work too hard," 1520s, from over- + work (v.). Old English oferwyrcan meant "to work all over," i.e. "to decorate the whole surface of." Related: Overworked; overworking.



"work beyond a person's strength," 1819; see overwork (v.). Old English oferweorc meant "a superstructure, sarcophagus, tomb."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper