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

Definition of overplay

transitive verb

1a : to present (a dramatic role) extravagantly : exaggerate
b : to place too much emphasis on
2 : to rely too much on the strength of usually used in the phrase overplay one's hand
3 : 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

With a safety’s support allowing him to overplay the out route, the corner made a terrific play to snag the ball near the line. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Mistake-filled Chargers loss seems oh-so-familiar," 15 Sep. 2019 But by overplaying his hand, Mr Iglesias will attract most of the opprobrium. The Economist, "Pedro Sánchez fails to form a coalition in Spain," 25 July 2019 But there’s lots of businesses for which that kind of risk is overplayed. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "The short but destructive history of mass layoffs," 12 July 2019 The most notable, Purdue Pharma, the Sackler-family owned maker of OxyContin, has been found guilty of downplaying the risks and overplaying the effectiveness of opioids, contributing to an epidemic of overprescription and diversion. Annabelle Timsit, Quartz, "The marketing practices that worsened America’s opioid epidemic are making their way overseas," 24 Aug. 2019 Trump’s tweets about Democratic congresswomen were absurdly crass, but Democrats should be careful about overplaying the race card and vilifying all the president’s supporters, writes John Kass. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Daywatch: Lightfoot gets early signature legislative wins, police investigating after viral video shows girl’s beating and other things to know to start your day," 25 July 2019 Also returning is the original cast member Mitchell Jarvis, who is back overplaying the narrator, Lonny — a puckish employee of the Bourbon Room, the rock club where most of the action takes place. New York Times, "Review: ‘Rock of Ages’ Returns, Scaled Down but Big Hair Intact," 4 July 2019 There are documents of people are kind of overplaying that. Fox News, "Media declare Cabinet chaos," 30 Apr. 2018 Khalid’s music is in the vein of Frank Ocean and Lorde, tunefully exploring states of vulnerability without overplaying anything. John Adamian, courant.com, "Young star Khalid performing in Hartford," 26 July 2019

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

1767, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for overplay

Last Updated

9 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for overplay

The first known use of overplay was in 1767

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More Definitions for overplay



English Language Learners Definition of overplay

: to give too much attention to (something) : to make (something) seem more important than it really is
disapproving : to show too much emotion when acting in a play, movie, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on overplay

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overplay

Nglish: Translation of overplay for Spanish Speakers

Comments on overplay

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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