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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web But the report also pointed to how overbroad and undue guardianships are increasing, and how there remains a lack of knowledge about alternatives. Washington Post, 14 July 2021 And the Supreme Court on Thursday continued its streak of reining in overbroad prosecutions with two unanimous decisions tossing fraud convictions against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cronies. The Editorial Board, wsj.com, 12 May 2023 The policy, known as Department Order 914, has previously been ruled overbroad and unconstitutional and has resulted in thousands of books, magazines and CDs being banned in Arizona prisons. Jimmy Jenkins, The Arizona Republic, 28 Jan. 2022 In Kagan’s telling, Humphrey’s Executor, Morrison, and a handful of smaller cases aren’t exceptions to Myers, but conscious efforts by subsequent justices to limit a flawed and overbroad holding. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 2 July 2020 Trump’s claims that the subpoena, to his accountants at Mazars USA, was issued in bad faith and is overbroad. Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg.com, 1 Sep. 2020 Those customers are required to report ordinary local accounts to the IRS under the overbroad Fatca law, which was meant to target tax evasion via secret overseas accounts. Peter Spiro, wsj.com, 2 Apr. 2023 Justice Amy Coney Barrett noted at one point, for instance, that the defendants found relatively few instances of overbroad prosecutions despite the provision’s long history, suggesting that the defendant and his allies might not have that much to worry about. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 30 Mar. 2023 But as a result of the subsequent controversy over Hannah-Jones’s overbroad claim, the entire project — more than 10,000 words by many authors — was demagogically cast as the flawed, perhaps treasonous work of a single person. Wesley Lowery, Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2023 See More

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 1 Jun. 2023.

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
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