• synonyms


verb (used with object), o·ver·wrote, o·ver·writ·ten, o·ver·writ·ing.
  1. to write in too elaborate, burdensome, diffuse, or prolix a style: He overwrites his essays to the point of absurdity.
  2. to write in excess of the requirements, especially so as to defeat the original intention: That young playwright tends to overwrite her big scenes.
  3. to write on or over; cover with writing: a flyleaf overwritten with a dedication.
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verb (used without object), o·ver·wrote, o·ver·writ·ten, o·ver·writ·ing.
  1. to write too elaborately: The problem with so many young authors is that they tend to overwrite.
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Origin of overwrite

First recorded in 1690–1700; over- + write
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for overwritten

Historical Examples of overwritten

  • The life of Borrow, unlike that of most famous men of letters, has not been overwritten.

    Immortal Memories

    Clement Shorter

  • No hand had overwritten the label of that book there raising it to the peerage, as it were.

    Angela's Business

    Henry Sydnor Harrison

  • Last night they have overwritten all the city walls with 'Up with the republic!'

  • Here the city is all overwritten with black-letter, and the glad Italian sun makes the effect so much the stronger.

  • In virtuality, the sequentiality of written language is overwritten by the very configurational nature of the context.

British Dictionary definitions for overwritten


verb -writes, -writing, -wrote or -written
  1. to write (something) in an excessively ornate or prolix style
  2. to write too much about (someone or something)
  3. to write on top of (other writing)
  4. to record on a storage medium, such as a magnetic disk, thus destroying what was originally recorded there
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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 overwritten



1690s, "to write over other writing," from over- + write (v.). Of computers, it is attested from 1959. Meaning "to write too elaborately or ornately" is from 1923. Related: Overwriting; overwritten.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper