over·​re·​act ˌō-vər-rē-ˈakt How to pronounce overreact (audio)
overreacted; overreacting

intransitive verb

: to react to something too strongly : to respond to something with too strong an emotion or with unnecessary or excessive action
I was furious and yelled at him. He told me I was overreacting and to "chillax."Ben Stein
The world isn't coming to an end. You shouldn't overreact to the negative news.Adam Bryant
Some of his animals had become apprehensive and twitchy, overreacting to sound or touch …Mark Caldwell
But the military police overreacted, using tear gas, rubber bullets and excessive force in front of news cameras that spread the images countrywide.Grant Wahl
… the poisonous surfeit of hormones produced by the overreacting immune system.Shannon Brownlee
Sometimes companies in a little bit of trouble are the best investments because the market has overreacted.Orson C. Clay
overreaction noun
plural overreactions
… he had said almost angrily that he couldn't tell her anything without eliciting a huge overreaction. Ann Beattie
This response is an overreaction by your immune system to an otherwise harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander. Medical Clinic Health Letter

Examples of overreact in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For some people, breathing in pollen can cause their immune system to overreact. Alex Groth, Journal Sentinel, 7 May 2024 There’s no reason to be scared of cicadas and no need to overreact, say experts who spend lots of time with them. Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY, 6 May 2024 But another possible use for Gemini in the threat space is summarizing threat reports into natural language inside Threat Intelligence so companies can assess how potential attacks may impact them — or, in other words, so companies don’t overreact or underreact to threats. Emilia David, The Verge, 6 May 2024 On China, the biggest risk today is not that China’s rise will fade away (and Washington will have overreacted). Evan S. Medeiros, Foreign Affairs, 23 Apr. 2024 Immune system function In people with rosacea, the immune system tends to overreact, causing excessive inflammation. Leslie Baumann, Miami Herald, 20 Apr. 2024 If your cofounder tends to overreact, that’s certainly a problem. Andy Dunn, Fortune, 11 Apr. 2024 At his recent press conference after the Fed’s latest meeting, the Chairman eased market angst, saying that the Fed would not overreact to the hotter than anticipated January and February inflation data. Robert Barone, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 At a news conference after the Fed’s two-day meeting, Powell said officials were careful not to overreact to January and February data. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, 20 Mar. 2024

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

1919, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of overreact was in 1919

Dictionary Entries Near overreact

Cite this Entry

“Overreact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overreact. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


intransitive verb
over·​re·​act ˌō-və(r)-rē-ˈakt How to pronounce overreact (audio)
: to react excessively or too strongly
the body's immune system overreacts to the endotoxinTina Adler
overreaction noun

More from Merriam-Webster on overreact

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