over·​pop·​u·​late ˌō-vər-ˈpä-pyə-ˌlāt How to pronounce overpopulate (audio)
overpopulated; overpopulating; overpopulates

transitive verb

: to populate too densely : furnish or provide with more than the environment or market will bear

intransitive verb

: to become overly populous

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web White men, however, still run corporate life and continue to overpopulate management ranks, despite a diversifying pipeline and the fact that, well, companies with diverse leaders make more money. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, 17 Feb. 2023 If left to overpopulate, elk and deer ravage the vegetation, and that can affect everything from erosion to river temperatures. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, 28 Mar. 2022 Turns out its show-offy wordiness is much better suited to Cumberbatch’s very sophisticated air, though even his take on the many characters that overpopulate this short narrative lost me around the six-and-a-half-hour mark. Marshall Heyman, Vulture, 23 June 2021 The argument that the world is overpopulated—and that control of birth rates holds the key to reversing climate change—dates back to Malthus, and remains a stubborn presence in the climate change debate today. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 18 May 2020 Director Lisa Portes overpopulates the stage with performers who are largely squandered on overindulgent choreography or, in a half-baked thread, scenes visualizing the online community tracking Olivia’s blog. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2020 The ruling came after a seven-day trial in which attorneys for migrants who sued back in 2015 claimed the facilities were overpopulated, overly cold and unsanitary, according to The Associated Press. Nick Givas, Fox News, 20 Feb. 2020 Shelters are usually overpopulated during this time of year. Segann March, Cincinnati.com, 25 Nov. 2019 Trump, however, the Never Trump conservatives who had previously dutifully advanced Republican talking points were overpopulating cable news shows and editorial pages. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 29 Oct. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'overpopulate.' 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

1828, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of overpopulate was in 1828

Dictionary Entries Near overpopulate

Cite this Entry

“Overpopulate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overpopulate. Accessed 10 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


over·​pop·​u·​late -ˈpäp-yə-ˌlāt How to pronounce overpopulate (audio)
: to populate too densely : cause to have too great a population
the city was overpopulated and polluted

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