over·​play ˌō-vər-ˈplā How to pronounce overplay (audio)
overplayed; overplaying; overplays

transitive verb

: to present (a dramatic role) extravagantly : exaggerate
: to place too much emphasis on
: to rely too much on the strength of
usually used in the phrase overplay one's hand
: to strike a golf ball beyond (a putting green)

intransitive verb

: to exaggerate a part or effect

Examples of overplay in a Sentence

The network news overplayed the story just to get good ratings. He overplayed the death scene.
Recent Examples on the Web If Del Toro overplays his hand, unleashing a wave of contract actions and legal investigations, industry is perfectly capable of flipping the script on the Navy Secretary by simply taking the SECNAV’s commitment to industry accountability to heart. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 But there’s a sense that Orban, a five-term leader of a nation of fewer than 10 million people, could have overplayed his hand on Sweden. Zoltan Simon, Bloomberg.com, 24 Jan. 2024 While the importance of maintaining legal and regulatory compliance and controlling risk is recognized in the business, security teams can be accused of overplaying this, stifling business innovation and development rather than contributing positively to it. Steve Durbin, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Matthew Lillard overplays his smaller role and in the process spoils what was meant to be a major twist. Murtada Elfadl, Variety, 26 Oct. 2023 Draculas of fact and fiction, impalers and impaled, were joined in the public imagination, even though many rival scholars found the association overplayed and deeply annoying. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2023 Although a gray-blue coastal palette is dominant elsewhere in the house, the homeowners didn’t want to overplay the blue tones in the decor inside the living room. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 2 Aug. 2023 One persistent worry on Wall Street is that the Fed will overplay its hand. Martha C. White, wsj.com, 16 Oct. 2023 Weiler tends to overemphasize Ryan’s nerves and overplay his breakdowns, while Thompson portrays Dani nearly shrinking into the background. In Swing State, Vulture, 17 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overplay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1767, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of overplay was in 1767

Dictionary Entries Near overplay

Cite this Entry

“Overplay.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overplay. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


over·​play ˌō-vər-ˈplā How to pronounce overplay (audio)
: exaggerate, overemphasize
newspapers overplayed the story
: to rely too much on the strength of
overplayed my hand and lost

More from Merriam-Webster on overplay

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