over·​kill | \ ˌō-vər-ˈkil How to pronounce overkill (audio) \
overkilled; overkilling; overkills

Definition of overkill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to obliterate (a target) with more nuclear force than required


over·​kill | \ ˈō-vər-ˌkil How to pronounce overkill (audio) \

Definition of overkill (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a destructive capacity greatly exceeding that required for a given target
2 : an excess of something (such as a quantity or an action) beyond what is required or suitable for a particular purpose publicity overkill an overkill in weaponry
3 : killing in excess of what is intended or required

Examples of overkill in a Sentence

Noun Yes, we need a new car, but this huge truck seems like overkill. the song already borders on the maudlin—the addition of a syrupy string accompaniment would just be overkill
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some phones, such as Sony’s Xperia Z Premium devices, reach higher on this metric to match the 4K resolution that’s now standard on most TVs, but that’s generally overkill and only costs you battery life without providing any real visual benefit. Popular Science, 15 Apr. 2020 These guys need nine lives, as much as they’ve been overkilled. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, 25 Aug. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun However, that seems like overkill if your problem could be resolved by asking your employer to provide seat wipes and covers. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 28 July 2022 Going to the northernmost human settlement on Earth to do a boat test, just a few hundred miles from the North Pole, sounds like overkill. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, 3 June 2022 The Legendary Shard economy is already toast from Trials and things like 400 shards for an Ascendant Alloy, and this really just seems like overkill. Paul Tassi, Forbes, 2 June 2022 Reviewers in Dickens’s time generally did not complain about what modern readers find hard to process: the melodrama, the rhetorical overkill, the staggering load of schmaltz. The New Yorker, 28 Feb. 2022 Her eyes blaze, her dancing reads as semaphore; a feeling of overkill, unsettling but necessary, pervades her every move. Dan Piepenbring, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 The spotlight was brightest in the eighth, tied 1-1, when two singles and — talk about motivation overkill — an intentional walk off Jorge Alcala brought up Rosario. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 There’s simply no such thing as overkill, which is why Chrome users on iOS devices will be pleased to learn about a new feature in testing, and everyone should now have access to it. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 22 June 2021 Just make sure to avoid overkill with this strong aroma. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of overkill


1957, in the meaning defined above


1957, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of overkill was in 1957

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Cite this Entry

“Overkill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overkill. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of overkill for Spanish Speakers


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