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

foray (into), invade, raid

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Examples of overrun in a Sentence


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 indoor, interactive conservation gallery educates guests on how pollution is overrunning the beaches and how to help. Catie Wegman, sun-sentinel.com, "SummerTimeOut: Turtle tours at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach," 26 June 2019 Laureano took his eye off the ball momentarily to find the fence, then took another couple of steps and overran the ball. Susan Slusser, SFChronicle.com, "Powerful moves pay off for A’s in win at St. Louis," 25 June 2019 That process, in which ambitious people at the margins of an established society became its masters, would be repeated throughout history by great empire builders, including the Romans who conquered Greece and the Mongols who overran China. Kristin Baird Rattini, National Geographic, "Meet the world’s first emperor," 18 June 2019 In March, Doctors Without Borders evacuated its personnel from the epicenter after its clinics in Katwa and Butembo were burned down or overrun as their patients scattered. New York Times, "For the Third Time, W.H.O. Declines to Declare the Ebola Outbreak an Emergency," 14 June 2019 After the German Army overran Eastern Europe, people in those areas were forced or volunteered to fight for the Germans, especially in the later years of the war. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "What’s the Most Accurate D-Day Movie? Here’s What 3 Movies Got Right—and Wrong," 5 June 2019 Medical personnel and wounded were trapped in clinics as troops overran the area. Bassam Hatoum And Samy Magdy, chicagotribune.com, "At least 35 people dead as Sudan's ruling military moves against pro-democracy demonstrators," 3 June 2019 Basra as a whole has been shaken by violent protests in recent months over entrenched corruption and poor public services, which earlier saw Iran’s Consulate there overrun and set ablaze. Jon Gambrell, The Seattle Times, "US: Iran military could misidentify airliners amid tension," 19 May 2019 When the Islamic State later overran the government’s chemical-weapons stores, they had been removed. Charles Glass, Harper's magazine, "“Tell Me How This Ends”," 10 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Courier Journal and ProPublica detailed the reasons for those overruns earlier this year in the first of a series of reports on KentuckyWired. Alfred Miller, The Courier-Journal, "KentuckyWired project overcomes squirrels to complete long-delayed initial phase," 28 June 2019 No one ever cared to hear her opinion, and the profession was becoming overrun with Instagram influencers. Ryan Faughnder, latimes.com, "A Russian model was poised for her big break in ‘Anna.’ Then the film got stuck in MeToo limbo," 18 June 2019 Will this legalization lead to TV and radio coverage of games becoming overrun with talk of gambling information? Phil Rosenthal, chicagotribune.com, "Here’s when sports gambling could be legal in Illinois, and answers to other questions about casinos and betting," 4 June 2019 After Russia's huge spending in venues, infrastructure and cost overruns for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, multi-billion dollar construction projects were awarded in new markets for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and 2022 Beijing Olympics. Graham Dunbar, Anchorage Daily News, "Italy to host 2026 Winter Olympics," 24 June 2019 After Russia’s huge spending in venues, infrastructure and cost overruns for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, multi-billion dollar construction projects were awarded in new markets for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and 2022 Beijing Olympics. Graham Dunbar, BostonGlobe.com, "Winter Olympics headed to Milan for 2026 Games," 24 June 2019 The Norwegian energy research firm Rystad Energy said cost overruns over the years ballooned the cost of the Prelude project from $11 billion to about $15 billion. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Shell starts up $15B Prelude FLNG project in Australia," 11 June 2019 Huge cost overruns on these contracts not only secure a handsome profit for the contractor but also guarantee that the number of weapons acquired always falls short of the number originally requested. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "The Military-Industrial Virus," 10 June 2019 They were badly outnumbered and outgunned and would have been overrun had not French jets arrived on the scene and chased the enemy away by making low-flying passes over the battlefield about two hours after the ambush was first reported. David Martin, CBS News, "Father of slain U.S. soldier unhappy with Pentagon decision to punish just 1 senior officer over Niger ambush," 6 June 2019

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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Statistics for overrun

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overrun

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

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More Definitions for overrun



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)



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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Comments on overrun

What made you want to look up overrun? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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