over·​run | \ ˌō-vər-ˈrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) , ˌō-və- \
overran\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈran How to pronounce overran (audio) , ˌō-​və-​ \; overrun; overrunning

Definition of overrun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to defeat decisively and occupy the positions of
(2) : to invade and occupy or ravage
b : to spread or swarm over : infest
2a : to run or go beyond or past the plane overran the runway
b : exceed overrun a budget
c : to readjust (set type) by shifting letters or words from one line into another
3 : to flow over the river overran its banks


over·​run | \ ˈō-vər-ˌrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) , ˈō-və- \

Definition of overrun (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of overrunning especially : an exceeding of the costs estimated in a contract for development and manufacture of new equipment
2 : the amount by which something overruns
3 : a run in excess of the quantity ordered by a customer

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Synonyms for overrun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of overrun in a Sentence

Verb The tank divisions overran the countryside. The city was being overrun by enemy troops. The plane overran the runway. His speech overran the time allowed.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The government hospital in the city is overrun with patients. The Economist, "Horsemen of the apocalypse Covid-19 raises the risks of violent conflict," 18 June 2020 Foreign barbarians could defeat China militarily, and even overrun the empire, but, in Chinese eyes, the Mongols, Xiongnu, and other foreign pests never upset the Chinese self-perception of exceptionalism. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "When China Met the West," 6 June 2020 Models predict you’ll be overrun with cases in a week or two. Jay Baruch, STAT, "You are waiting for the surge," 21 Apr. 2020 If we got overrun with cases about my only option would be to commandeer some of the motels next to the hospital. Bruce Selcraig, ExpressNews.com, "In San Antonio’s suburban counties, coronavirus fight is improvised and personal," 31 Mar. 2020 The top American diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian protesters in 1979 and one of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year. Bernard Mcghee, Twin Cities, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 Large prisons, in particular, are usually situated in rural areas with small community hospitals that can be easily overrun by an outbreak. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "We Live in a Patchwork Pandemic Now," 20 May 2020 Notably absent from the gathering was Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose country was overrun by the Nazis at the outbreak of World War II and was home to six extermination camps, including Auschwitz. Ivan Levingston, Bloomberg.com, "World Leaders Gather in Jerusalem 75 Years After Holocaust," 8 May 2020 Even when their city was repeatedly overrun by the Taliban and fighting reached their doorsteps, the doctors and nurses in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz kept working. Mujib Mashal, New York Times, "‘Hospital Needs to Be Quarantined,’ but Works On in Country at War," 1 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An outbreak of the virus has overrun San Quentin since last month, with more than a third of incarcerated people there testing positive for Covid-19, according to CDCR data. Nicole Chavez, CNN, "2 more death row inmates at San Quentin die from coronavirus complications," 3 July 2020 After months of plateauing at 20,000 to 30,000 new cases per day nationwide, U.S. numbers are rising sharply in 30 states, and overrun medical centers are scrambling to free up beds. Nsikan Akpan, National Geographic, "Here's how to stop the virus from winning," 26 June 2020 Despite the dramatic increase in active cases, Pasadena’s hospitals have not been overrun. John Delapp, Houston Chronicle, "Pasadena to close City Hall except for essential staff," 26 June 2020 In Peru and Chile, political leaders who initially touted success in managing the pandemic now find their countries overrun by the virus and popular discontent mounting. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Latin America’s coronavirus crisis is only getting worse," 26 June 2020 The hospital coordinator stressed that while there is room to take care of patients, the best way to ensure medical facilities aren’t overrun is prevention. Dallas News, "Dallas will not open a pop-up hospital at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as COVID-19 cases spike," 25 June 2020 The onset of the pandemic — and the potential for a calamitous overrun of the city’s health care system — activated Aragón’s mostly latent powers as health officer to take drastic steps to safeguard the public. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "He’s been SF’s most powerful person in pandemic response. You don’t know his name.," 14 June 2020 Acton thanked Ohioans for following best practices on fighting the novel coronavirus and avoiding a surge of cases that could have overrun the state's hospitals. Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati.com, "Amy Acton resigns as Ohio Health Department Director, will continue to advise Gov. DeWine," 11 June 2020 In the concept, a detention pond would be installed to collect some of the water overrun. Laura Bednar, cleveland, "Independence authorizes purchase of rental property with plan to improve safety and appearance," 6 June 2020

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1898, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for overrun

Time Traveler

The first known use of overrun was before the 12th century

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Statistics for overrun

Last Updated

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Overrun.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overrun. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for overrun


How to pronounce overrun (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overrun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to enter and be present in (a place) in large numbers
: to run or go beyond or past (something)
: to spread over or throughout (something)


How to pronounce overrun (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of overrun (Entry 2 of 2)

: an amount of money that is spent and that is more than the expected or planned amount


over·​run | \ ˌō-vər-ˈrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) \
overran\ -​ˈran \; overrun; overrunning

Kids Definition of overrun

1 : to take over and occupy by force The outpost was overrun by the enemy.
2 : to run or go past The runner overran second base.
3 : to spread over so as to cover Weeds overran the garden.

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