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

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 The bureau is one of the most politically divisive agencies in Washington, hailed as a regulatory crown jewel by Democrats while maligned by Republicans as a bastion of government overreach and waste. Elizabeth Dexheimer And Margaret Talev, BostonGlobe.com, "Little-known White House aide chosen to lead consumer agency," 16 June 2018 The main opposition party, the center-right National Party, says the government is overreaching and should do more to empower the private sector and nongovernmental organizations to step in. New York Times, "As Housing Prices Soar, New Zealand Tackles a Surge in Homelessness," 22 June 2018 But for pro-independence Catalans, Article 155, as the statute is called, came to symbolize the Spanish state’s overreach. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Spain Ceases Direct Rule in Catalonia," 2 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

9 Oct 2018

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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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