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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for overload

Synonyms: Verb

overburden, overcharge, overfill

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of overload in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There were gardens of dying flowers and trash cans overloaded with uncollected garbage. Eli Saslow, Anchorage Daily News, "Raids are separating families in the heartland," 1 July 2018 Like an old computer, my brain overheated, working itself to overload, looking for explanations. Your Fat Friend, SELF, "Weight Stigma Kept Me Out Of Doctors’ Offices for Almost a Decade," 26 June 2018 No longer will teams be allowed to overload one side of the field in an effort to create a blocking or coverage advantage. Christopher Dabe, NOLA.com, "Could new NFL kickoff rules give Saints' Alvin Kamara more chances to score?," 25 May 2018 There were gardens of dying flowers and trash cans overloaded with uncollected garbage. Eli Saslow, Anchorage Daily News, "Raids are separating families in the heartland," 1 July 2018 There were gardens of dying flowers and trash cans overloaded with uncollected garbage. Eli Saslow, chicagotribune.com, "ICE raids are separating families in America's heartland," 1 July 2018 There were gardens of dying flowers and trash cans overloaded with uncollected garbage. Eli Saslow, Washington Post, "After raid, immigrant families are separated in the American heartland," 30 June 2018 The studies found that when parents overloaded their children with contradictory statements over too long a period of time, the children were driven insane. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Bhagwan’s Devious Trap," 12 Apr. 2018 It was created in response to a crisis and now allows veterans to tap into the private health-care system when VA capacity is overloaded, is too far away, or doesn’t offer certain specialty services. Anthony Tersigni, WSJ, "Congress’s Chance to Do Right by Veterans," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Prepare for a cuteness overload and see all the photos here: The celebratory day for the Royal Air Force's 100th anniversary started at Westminster Abbey, where the royals met with Royal Air Force personnel and attended a service. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Prince George and Princess Charlotte Had the Best Time Watching the RAF Flyover From a Palace Window," 10 July 2018 That didn't matter Saturday, however, as the sensory overload turned everything into pure entertainment. Jeffrey Lee Puckett, The Courier-Journal, "Taylor Swift goes big with her bad reputation at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium," 1 July 2018 Already today the Trump administration has been forced to temporarily suspend migrant family prosecutions because of the case overload. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "The Shameless Fakery of Trump’s Retreat on Family Separations," 21 June 2018 More flavorful vodka makes that vodka soda a much more interesting cocktail to drink all night without fear of caloric overload. Elva Ramirez, charlotteobserver, "Flavored vodka is moving on from its whipped cream, PB&J past," 6 July 2018 Why some prefer paper Even people who can easily receive statements online may prefer paper for various reasons: To cut through information overload online. Spencer Tierney, USA TODAY, "Delay going digital? Don’t write off paper bank statements just yet," 19 Mar. 2018 Reliance told the agency that the FPE breakers will trip reliably at most overload levels unless the breakers have been operated in a repetitive, abusive manner that should not occur during residential use. Elisabeth Leamy, ajc, "This circuit breaker is still in homes despite safety concerns," 10 May 2018 The Gunners defensive recruitment drive could hit overload by the back end of the week, with Switzerland international Stephan Lichtsteiner close to joining on a free transfer from Serie A giants Juventus. SI.com, "Arsenal Continuing to Pursue Capture of Çağlar Söyüncü Despite Imminent Arrival of Dortmund Star," 30 May 2018 Critics say the project would snarl the area in traffic, overload its schools and cause flooding on Salado Creek. Richard Webner, San Antonio Express-News, "Veterans community planned on Southeast Side raises concerns," 15 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of overload


1553, in the meaning defined above


1645, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about overload

Statistics for overload

Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overload

The first known use of overload was in 1553

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overload


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

Kids Definition of overload

: to put too great a load on or in

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!