over·​broad ˌō-vər-ˈbrȯd How to pronounce overbroad (audio)
: too widely applicable or applied : excessively broad
an overbroad interpretation of the statute
… a litigant challenging an overbroad law …Laurence H. Tribe
… was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.The New York Times
But he tends, at times, to draw overbroad generalizations from his personal experience.Alexander Stille

Examples of overbroad in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Every court that considered a university speech code between 1989 and 1995 reached the same conclusion: The rules were vague, overbroad or discriminated against speakers because of their points of view and were thus unconstitutional. Charles Homans Gabra Zackman Anna Diamond Quinton Kamara, New York Times, 29 May 2024 These might include overbroad nondisclosure agreements, training repayment provisions, and nonsolicitation clauses. Harris Meyer, Fortune, 27 May 2024 The litigation argues that Ohio’s law — which requires social media companies to obtain a parent’s permission for children under 16 to sign up for social media and gaming apps — unconstitutionally impedes free speech and is overbroad and vague. Julie Carr Smyth, Twin Cities, 5 Jan. 2024 Despite its overbroad dicta, the logic of Dobbs militates toward recognition of the unborn child’s constitutional personhood. Christian Schneider, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Judge Presnell’s injunction rested on a doctrine peculiar to First Amendment cases, one that allows judges to strike down overbroad laws because of their chilling effect on others’ speech. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 The judge said the law violates free speech rights and is overbroad and vague. The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Sep. 2023 Met Police Deputy Commissioner Lynne Owens has warned against an overbroad interpretation of support for Hamas. Beatriz Ríos, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2023 In a ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Ezra agreed with claims that House Bill 1181, which was signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June, violates free speech rights and is overbroad and vague. The Salt Lake Tribune, 1 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overbroad.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1656, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of overbroad was in 1656

Dictionary Entries Near overbroad

Cite this Entry

“Overbroad.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overbroad. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Legal Definition


: not sufficiently restricted to a specific subject or purpose
an overbroad search
especially : characterized by a prohibition or chilling effect on constitutionally protected conduct
an overbroad statute
compare vague
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!