over·​reach | \ˌō-vər-ˈrēch, ˌō-və-\
overreached; overreaching; overreaches

Definition of overreach 

transitive verb

1 : to reach above or beyond : overtop

2 : to defeat (oneself) by seeking to do or gain too much

3 : to get the better of especially in dealing and bargaining and typically by unscrupulous or crafty methods

intransitive verb

1 of a horse : to strike the forefoot with the front part of the hind foot

2a : to go to excess

b : exaggerate

3 : to overreach oneself

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Other Words from overreach

overreach \ˈō-​vər-​ˌrēch, ˈō-​və-​, ˌō-​vər-​ˈrēch, ˌō-​və-​ \ noun
overreacher \ˈō-​vər-​ˌrē-​chər, ˈō-​və-​, ˌō-​vər-​ˈrē-​chər, ˌō-​və-​ \ noun

Examples of overreach in a Sentence

She overreaches in her latest book, and her argument is not convincing. The company overreached itself and ran out of money after one year.

Recent Examples on the Web

Critics have long assailed Aadhaar, calling it a case of government overreach that could lead to snooping on citizens, and saying that keeping such data in one location provides a tantalizing target for hackers. Krishna Pokharel, WSJ, "India’s Top Court Rules Massive Biometric Identity Database Legal—With Restrictions," 26 Sep. 2018 Libertarians took up the protest, saying that the government was overreaching. Jan Hoffman, New York Times, "San Francisco Voters Uphold Ban on Flavored Vaping Products," 6 June 2018 This is another proof point for my Big Idea from last Friday: Once again, a Republican judge just went further than his Democratic counterparts on the bench in checking Trump’s overreach on immigration. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Mick Mulvaney’s confession highlights the corrosive influence of money in politics," 25 Apr. 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions sued the state of California earlier this year over the sanctuary state policies, arguing that state lawmakers overreached their authority. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Trump Supreme pick Kavanaugh prepping for confirmation war; FBI lovebirds facing hot seat," 10 July 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions took California to court over three state immigration policies and argued that lawmakers overreached their authority earlier this year. Taryn Luna, sacbee, "Federal judge rejects Trump lawsuit against California's sanctuary state law," 9 July 2018 District prosecutors on Friday dismissed rioting charges against all remaining defendants arrested after destructive Inauguration Day protests, bringing to a close a controversial case which led to allegations of government overreach. Keith L. Alexander, Washington Post, "Federal prosecutors abruptly dismiss all remaining Inauguration Day rioting cases," 6 July 2018 Sharp turns towards statism and government overreach at City Hall and in Albany threaten the gains of the last generation. WSJ, "Notable & Quotable: Larry Mone Retires," 12 July 2018 Instead, many people posted pictures that seemed to depict police overreach and brutality. Eli Rosenberg, chicagotribune.com, "The State Department held a Q&A on overseas travel with children. The responses were brutal.," 21 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for overreach

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overreach

The first known use of overreach was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for overreach



English Language Learners Definition of overreach

: to try to do something that is beyond your ability to do


intransitive verb
over·​reach | \-ˈrēch \

Medical Definition of overreach 

of a horse

: to strike the toe of the hind foot against the heel or quarter of the forefoot


transitive verb
over·​reach | \ˌō-vər-ˈrēch \

Legal Definition of overreach 

: to make (someone or something) the subject of overreaching this uncounseled defendant was…overreached by the prosecution's submission of misinformation to the courtTownsend v. Burke, 334 U.S. 736 (1948) must determine whether it overreached privilegeNational Law Journal

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More from Merriam-Webster on overreach

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overreach

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overreach

Britannica English: Translation of overreach for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overreach

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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