over·​flow | \ ˌō-vər-ˈflō How to pronounce overflow (audio) \
overflowed; overflowing; overflows

Definition of overflow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cover with or as if with water : inundate
2 : to flow over the brim of
3 : to cause to overflow

intransitive verb

1 : to flow over bounds
2 : to fill a space to capacity and spread beyond its limits the crowd overflowed into the street


over·​flow | \ ˈō-vər-ˌflō How to pronounce overflow (audio) \

Definition of overflow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a flowing over : inundation
2 : something that flows over : surplus
3 : an outlet or receptacle for surplus liquid

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Synonyms & Antonyms for overflow

Synonyms: Verb


Synonyms: Noun

alluvion, bath, cataclysm, cataract, deluge, flood, flood tide, inundation, Niagara, spate, torrent

Antonyms: Noun

drought (also drouth)

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Examples of overflow in a Sentence


The river overflowed its banks. The creek overflows every spring. The water in the tub overflowed. Books and papers overflowed his desk. The paragraph overflowed the page.


a great overflow of water from the heavy rains swept mud and silt down onto the highway an overflow of help actually made the job more complicated
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Also on Awkwafina’s overflowing plate is her as-yet-untitled Comedy Central series loosely based on her upbringing in Queens. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "It's Official: Awkwafina Will Star In the Live-Action 'The Little Mermaid'," 11 Sep. 2019 Those toilet overflow problems that turned a Kenny Chesney concert into a nightmare? Joey Morona, cleveland.com, "Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium bathrooms rank 21st in the NFL, fan survey says," 4 Sep. 2019 The Chicago Law Department has averaged more than nine months to notify property owners about sanitation violations such as overflowing garbage cans or uncut weeds, the city inspector general found. John Byrne, chicagotribune.com, "Watchdog: City averaged nearly a year to send out citations for overflowing trash, other sanitation violations," 4 Sep. 2019 Every flickering traffic light, every barreling train or overflowing bathtub spells looming trouble. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Waves': Film Review | Telluride 2019," 31 Aug. 2019 After decades of abuse, the vessel lists to port, but its sewer pipes drain to starboard, jamming and overflowing toilets. Author: Richard Read, Anchorage Daily News, "Meet the icebreaker Polar Star, the neglected stepchild of the U.S. military industrial complex," 17 Aug. 2019 People were no more careful with their domestic garbage, dumping it anywhere in the proximity of overflowing dumpsters, which were rarely emptied. Raghuram Rajan, Quartz India, "How Indians cleaned up one of their dirtiest cities—and have kept it that way," 12 Aug. 2019 Take this year’s Midwest flooding, an historic season of rain and overflowing rivers that has impacted more than 200 million people in 25 states. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How federal flood policy is, and isn’t, addressing climate change today," 29 July 2019 The problem of the poor conditions and overflowing detention centers rests clearly on their shoulders. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Rounding up geese from parks — cruel or beneficial? (7/7/19)," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Both the promoter and the band have promised that people who purchased tickets to one or more of the shows will be notified of nearby overflow parking and shuttles before the Aug. 30 kick-off show. John Wenzel, The Know, "Prairie dogs, parking and the plague: What you need to know before seeing Phish in Denver this weekend," 28 Aug. 2019 For the hardy souls who insist on driving, the casino has 3,000 underground parking spaces ($22 for 6 hours, $42 for 24 hours), and there is overflow parking at several locations nearby. Joshua Miller, BostonGlobe.com, "Encore Boston Harbor casino is hours from opening," 23 June 2019 Each site is pet-friendly and allows a maximum of six people and one vehicle, with an overflow parking lot for extra cars. Kellie Hwang, Indianapolis Star, "10 of the best campgrounds within a few hours of Indianapolis," 21 June 2019 The Environmental Integrity Project’s report said sewage overflows from Harrisburg pipes into the Susquehanna totaled 1.4 billion gallons last year, up from 789 million gallons in 2016. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "It’s not just Baltimore: Another city is sending much more sewage into the Chesapeake Bay, report says," 22 Aug. 2019 The swim portion of event had been in doubt earlier in the week because of concerns about water quality following a sewage overflow Tuesday and rough-water conditions Friday canceled a 750-meter swim event. cleveland.com, "2019 USA Triathlon Age Group Championships: Justin Lippert repeats, Rachel Mensch wins (photos)," 10 Aug. 2019 View this post on Instagram Words truly can’t describe the overflow of love, tears and laughter that was shared on this beautiful, rainy day in Palm Springs. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who Is Demi's Girlfriend Kristian Haggerty From 'Bachelor In Paradise'?," 19 July 2019 Heavy rain inundates the pipes, causing overflows of millions of gallons of stormwater laced with sewage. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "Sampling initiative in Baltimore's Inner Harbor aims to answer the question, 'How's the water, hon?'," 25 June 2019 In April, the distillery failed to turn off a pump that was transferring wastewater, resulting in the overflow of a holding tank into a nearby tributary. Benjamin Tobin, The Courier-Journal, "It's been a year since Kentucky's huge bourbon barrel spill. What's changed?," 21 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overflow.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of overflow


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for overflow

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overflow

The first known use of overflow was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for overflow



English Language Learners Definition of overflow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to flow over the edge or top of (something)
: to fill or cover (something) completely
: to be completely filled with something : to be so filled that there is not enough room for anything or anyone more



English Language Learners Definition of overflow (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of flowing over the edge or top of something
: the amount of something that flows over the edge or top of something else
: the number of people or things that goes over a limit


over·​flow | \ ˌō-vər-ˈflō How to pronounce overflow (audio) \
overflowed; overflowing

Kids Definition of overflow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to flow over the top of The river overflowed its banks.
2 : to flow over bounds The creek overflows every spring.
3 : to fill or become filled beyond capacity The basket was overflowing with candy.
4 : to fill a space up and spread beyond its limits The crowd overflowed into the street.


over·​flow | \ ˈō-vər-ˌflō How to pronounce overflow (audio) \

Kids Definition of overflow (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a flowing over Dams couldn't stop the overflow.
2 : something that flows over or fills a space and spreads beyond its limits Police tried to control the overflow of traffic.


over·​flow | \ ˈō-vər-ˌflō How to pronounce overflow (audio) \

Medical Definition of overflow

: an excessive flow or amount

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More from Merriam-Webster on overflow

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overflow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overflow

Spanish Central: Translation of overflow

Nglish: Translation of overflow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overflow for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overflow

What made you want to look up overflow? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


miscellaneous remnants or debris

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