over·​clas·​si·​fy ˌō-vər-ˈkla-sə-ˌfī How to pronounce overclassify (audio)
overclassified; overclassifying
: to classify (something or someone) to an excessive degree: such as
transitive : to divide (someone or something) into too many or unnecessary classes (see class entry 1 sense 3)
The model we describe is intended to work with the differences people bring to the therapy situation, without overclassifying them based on any particular characteristics.Charlie Johnson and Denise Webster
also : to include too many or too much of (someone or something) in a class
… has long argued, however, that this cutoff overclassifies children and artificially inflates diagnostic rates. George Kapalka
transitive + intransitive : to make (something, such as information or documents) classified (see classified entry 1 sense 2) unnecessarily
The intelligence community too often overclassifies information that many of us believe should readily be available …Pete Hoekstra
We're overclassifying. We're keeping too much out of the public domain.Robert Baer
overclassification noun
plural overclassifications
overclassification of students
overclassification of government data

Examples of overclassify in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There are millions of clearance holders in the federal bureaucracy, and the default desire to overclassify documents out of excessive abundances of caution means that there is simply too much classified paperwork floating around to properly manage. Bradley P. Moss, CNN, 11 Jan. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overclassify.' 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

1893, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of overclassify was in 1893

Dictionary Entries Near overclassify

Cite this Entry

“Overclassify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overclassify. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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