over·​load | \ ˌō-vər-ˈlōd \
overloaded; overloading; overloads

Definition of overload

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to load (something or someone) to excess: such as
a : to put too large a load on or in (something) overload a ship overload a washing machine Overloading the trailer poses a safety risk. … a bad winter can so overload roofs with snow that their collapses become endemic.— Henry Petroski
b : to give too much of something to (someone or something) : to supply with an excess of something overloading students with more information than they can retain More than ever, the upper middle class is synonymous with the stressed-out class. Their bosses are overloading them with work …— Joseph Spiers … have overloaded the market with too many strange designs and weird color combinations.— Mimi Valdés a movie overloaded with special effects a court system overloaded with criminal cases
c : to cause too large a load in (something, such as an electrical circuit) Too much current traveling through one circuit can cause an overload. The wires inside a wall can get too hot and start a fire. Using a special safety power strip can help prevent overloading a circuit.Science


over·​load | \ ˈō-vər-ˌlōd \
plural overloads

Definition of overload (Entry 2 of 2)

: an excessive load or amount of something an overload of cargo an overload of details If your dog is suffering from an overload of stress, he will appear depressed, inactive, sluggish and unresponsive.— Daniel Seligman You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance …— Philip Roth If you're a regular reader of blogs, … you've probably been frustrated from time to time by information overload: the blogosphere creates way too much material for any human being to comfortably digest.— Chris Taylor Large department stores tend to bring on sensory overload [=overstimulation of the senses]— Stephen O'Shea and Joan Harting

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Synonyms for overload

Synonyms: Verb

overburden, overcharge, overfill

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Examples of overload in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Four months of bedrest had left me with atrophied muscles and a body overloaded with ice cream, antibiotics, and painkillers—this would be great test of Espace Chenot’s efficacy. Irena Medavoy, Town & Country, "How to Detox Like a Hollywood Power Player," 5 Nov. 2018 Protesters worry housing costs will rise and the transit system will be overloaded. WSJ, "Immigration, Mueller Probe Boosted U.S. Tensions This Year," 18 Dec. 2018 Microsoft tried to redirect some authentication attempts to US servers, but this merely had the effect of overloading those, too. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft explains one Azure authentication outage as another one happens," 27 Nov. 2018 The kids were able to wipe the memory cards from a recreation of state voting machine interfaces (within five seconds) and either replace a voter’s ballot altogether or overload the system with fake voters to render a real voter’s ballot useless. Jennie Neufeld, Vox, "An 11-year-old hacked a replica of Florida’s voting system in 10 minutes," 13 Aug. 2018 At times when ISPs are overloaded, like during a natural disaster, some throttling might be necessary in order to allow everyone access to the Internet. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Just How Mobile Providers Throttle Your Internet," 11 Sep. 2018 The servers initially affected were those servicing the Europe and the Middle East region and the Asia-Pacific region; as those regions woke up and tried to authenticate, the servers overloaded and went down. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft explains one Azure authentication outage as another one happens," 27 Nov. 2018 Crude exports could more than double next year before overloading existing and planned shipping infrastructure, according to estimates by S&P Global Platts Analytics. Rebecca Elliott, WSJ, "Frackers Bet on New Terminals to Boost Oil Exports," 21 Oct. 2018 That's a good way to overload your thighs and end up sore or injured. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "How to Start Trail Running," 9 Sep. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Photo: Andy Ryan for The Wall Street Journal Sam Lobban, the vice president of men’s designer and new concepts at Nordstrom, admitted that today’s pocket overload is often about form over function. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Think Your Clothes Have Enough Pockets? Think Again," 6 Sep. 2018 In tandem with the collection, created by a hundreds-strong in-house atelier, the location was designed to stimulate sensory shock and awe: total beauty overload. Vogue, "How These 12 Boundary-Breaking Designers Continue to Think Globally," 13 Aug. 2018 The reason for the sugars overload is the high fruit-to-veggie ratio. Consumer Reports, Washington Post, "That juice may be green, but it’s not as healthy as you think," 25 June 2018 The constant movement and activity, the visual poetry, and the sensory overload can be both engaging and addictive. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Secret gardens: A global tour of hidden urban oases," 12 June 2018 Thank Pinterest, thank Joanna Gaines, thank marble madness overload—but concrete countertops have taken over farmhouses in the past few years. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Concrete Countertops: Is the Home Trend All It's Cracked up to Be?," 12 Dec. 2018 The most recent show on this list gave Lady Gaga a chance to highlight personal connections within a sensory-overload thrill ride. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Lindquist: 20 unforgettable nights across 20 years of writing about Indianapolis concerts," 4 May 2018 That is the issue that gave rise to the right-wing Alternative, plus assorted hooligans decked out in Nazi regalia like their kin in the U.S. There is no such overload today. Josef Joffe, WSJ, "Is Germany Slouching Toward Weimar Again?," 23 Sep. 2018 Check out the video above to see which overall, of-the-moment looks the guys love—and which ones leave them totally divided, as well as their advice for working them in without going into trend overload—in the video above. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "The One Decorating Trend Carson Kressley & Thom Filicia Just Can't Stand," 29 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overload.' 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 overload


1553, in the meaning defined above


1645, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for overload

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overload

The first known use of overload was in 1553

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More Definitions for overload


over·​load | \ ˌō-vər-ˈlōd\
overloaded; overloading

Kids Definition of overload

: to put too great a load on or in

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More from Merriam-Webster on overload

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overload

Spanish Central: Translation of overload

Nglish: Translation of overload for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overload for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overload

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


a complex dispute or argument

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