over·​pre·​scribe ˌō-vər-pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce overprescribe (audio)
overprescribed; overprescribing

transitive + intransitive

: to prescribe (a medication, diagnostic test, etc.) in excess or more often than necessary
The family of a man who fatally overdosed is suing his doctors claiming they overprescribed addictive pain medication.WPXI.com (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
… tried … to warn the world against overprescribing antibiotics to a point that they would be useless.Network Ten (Australia)
Critics say Xanax is overprescribed and widely abused.Jane Velez-Mitchell
… the compelling and continuing issues of quality control and overprescribing in medical imaging …David J. Brenner and Hedvig Hricak
Why do doctors overprescribe? Is it about covering their backsides in this litigious society?Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker

Word History

First Known Use

1953, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of overprescribe was in 1953

Dictionary Entries Near overprescribe

Cite this Entry

“Overprescribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overprescribe. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

Medical Definition


over·​pre·​scribe -pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce overprescribe (audio)
overprescribed; overprescribing

intransitive verb

: to prescribe excessive or unnecessary medication

transitive verb

: to prescribe (medication) unnecessarily or to excess
overprescription noun
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