over·​load | \ ˌō-vər-ˈlōd How to pronounce overload (audio) \
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 How to pronounce overload (audio) \
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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of overload in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Warriors resembled a 16th century galleon overloaded with gold and listing to starboard. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Golden State Warriors Are … Alive!," 3 June 2019 Its originals could be better, but the service has wisely chosen not to overload us with shoddy new programming, a mistake its biggest competitor, Netflix, has unfortunately made. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Ranked: All the major streaming services, from Netflix to Apple TV+ to Disney+," 29 Oct. 2019 The trick is how to get pilots to comply without overloading them. Wired, "Teaching Pilots a New Trick: Landing Quietly," 26 Sep. 2019 What’s more, there’s evidence to suggest that merely hearing too many lies can both overload the brain and reinforce a lie. Jeff Stibel, USA TODAY, "This is why liars can outsmart your brain," 11 Sep. 2019 For all the hype, the sensory overloaded dining room truly delivers. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Lynn Wyatt and the Rothko Chapel takeover MAD restaurant in River Oaks District for VIP dinner," 30 Aug. 2019 The report notes that the public emphasis Trump administration officials placed on entering the country through ports of entry may have overloaded those facilities, which can process only a certain number of asylum seekers at a time. Andrew Duehren, WSJ, "U.S. Government Watchdog Reports Faults in DHS Migrant Family Separation Policy," 2 Oct. 2018 Such error messages occur when an Internet service provider suspends a site, and could mean that it has been overloaded by traffic or that an order has gone out to take it down. Hannah Beech, BostonGlobe.com, "The Thai palace posted photos of the king’s consort. Then the website went down.," 27 Aug. 2019 Such error messages occur when an internet service provider suspends a site, and could mean that it has been overloaded by traffic or that an order has gone out to take it down. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "The Thai Palace Posted Photos of the King’s Consort. Then the Website Went Down.," 27 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The cuteness overload occurred this week at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Leah Asmelash And Melissa Alonso, CNN, "This Missouri hospital is caring for 12 sets of twins all born this week," 29 Nov. 2019 Dewayne and Marco are still recovering from the sensory overload of flashing signs and strobe lights at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo. Orlando Sentinel Podcasts, orlandosentinel.com, "PODCAST: IAAPA Expo – Future thrill rides, tech and games that may or may not poke your eye out (Ep. 26)," 21 Nov. 2019 Here’s what will really put your feels for the pair on overload: Their red carpet photos. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Blake Shelton Gave an Expletive-Filled Speech About Gwen Stefani and Everyone Lost It," 11 Nov. 2019 Early Aughts Hair The nostalgia overload that is Hulu’s Pen15 provided many an early 2000s fashion flashback—hello, hot pink thong—and the hair was a crucial part of that. Lauren Hubbard, Harper's BAZAAR, "18 Easy Halloween Costumes That Are All About The Hairstyle," 11 Sep. 2019 Johansson, Damon, and Bale aren’t the only celebs to fall prey to the cuteness overload. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Watch Scarlett Johansson crash Matt Damon and Christian Bale's puppy hangout session," 8 Sep. 2019 While decreasing the overload in state prisons, the results in county jails across California have been deadly. Jason Pohl, ProPublica, "A Year After an Inmate Was Choked to Death in Jail, a Murder Charge but Few Details," 19 Aug. 2019 Back on Earth, the computer scientists scrambled to figure out what had caused the processor overload. Stephen Witt, WIRED, "Apollo 11: Mission Out of Control," 24 June 2019 However people still do report feelings of digital stress and information and communication overload. Brad Ridout, Quartz, "Seven ways to deal with smartphone stress," 13 Nov. 2019

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

Time Traveler for overload

Time Traveler

The first known use of overload was in 1553

See more words from the same year

Statistics for overload

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Overload.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overload?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=o&file=overl01ld. Accessed 9 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overload


How to pronounce overload (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overload

: to put too great a load on or in (something)
: to give too much work to (someone)
: to cause (something, such as an electrical circuit) to be used for too many things at the same time


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

Kids Definition of overload

: to put too great a load on or in

Keep scrolling for more

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).


contradictory or incongruous words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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!