over·​take | \ ˌō-vər-ˈtāk How to pronounce overtake (audio) \
overtook\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈtu̇k How to pronounce overtook (audio) \; overtaken\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈtā-​kən How to pronounce overtaken (audio) \; overtaking

Definition of overtake

transitive verb

1a : to catch up with
b : to catch up with and pass by
2 : to come upon suddenly

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Examples of overtake in a Sentence

She overtook the other runners and went on to win the race. The sign says “No Overtaking.” Seasickness can overtake passengers when the ship encounters a storm.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Ahead of the season opener, the Tide coaches put in a few run packages for true freshman Jalen Hurts, who ripped off a couple big runs and effectively overtook Barnett for the starting job. Albert Breer, SI.com, "The 2020 NFL Draft Conversation Starts With the Quarterbacks," 8 July 2019 The budget of the religious directorate, the agency responsible for the conduct of sermons in the country’s mosques, has grown by leaps and bounds, overtaking several ministries in the process. P.z. | Istanbul, The Economist, "In Turkey, demography is a brake on Islamisation," 1 July 2019 Investments in offshore wind in the United States doubled in the past 12 months, overtaking China and Taiwan for the third largest global market. Houston Chronicle, "New offshore wind projects making the U.S. a player globally, study says," 26 June 2019 An Economist/YouGov survey released Wednesday found her in second place with 16%, overtaking another populist, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and behind Biden, who had 27%. Sahil Kapur, Fortune, "Elizabeth Warren's Populist Positions Echo a Certain Republican—Donald Trump," 15 June 2019 For three 20-something UConn grads living in New York City, avid fans of the Huskies’ athletic teams, the urge to take action overtook the impulse to pine wistfully for past glory. Dom Amore, courant.com, "UConn grads help fill empty seats at Huskies athletic events with youth groups through nonprofit," 14 June 2019 Nigeria, which now has 200 million people and is the most populous country on the continent, is expected to double in size by 2050 and overtake the United States to become the third-most populous nation in the world. Jasmin Lavoie, Billboard, "Streamers Battle For Africa: No Front-Runner Yet as Spotify, Spinlet & Others Fight for Market Share," 13 June 2019 Mathis, a sophomore who came to LSU from junior college, was LSU’s opening day catcher and started the majority of the season before a healthy Saul Garza overtook the job. Brody Miller, nola.com, "LSU catcher Brock Mathis, pitcher Will Ripoll enter the NCAA transfer portal," 11 June 2019 But what happens when the performance overtakes the performer, when the flannel habit intensifies from urban axe throwing to rural woodcraft? Jonny Diamond, Longreads, "Lumbersexuality, a Sport and a Pastime," 8 June 2019

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for overtake

Middle English, from over entry 1 + taken to take

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Statistics for overtake

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overtake

The first known use of overtake was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for overtake



English Language Learners Definition of overtake

: to move up to and past (someone or something that is in front of you) by moving faster
British : to go past another vehicle that is moving more slowly in the same direction
: to happen to or affect (someone) in a sudden and unexpected way


over·​take | \ ˌō-vər-ˈtāk How to pronounce overtake (audio) \
overtook\ -​ˈtu̇k \; overtaken\ -​ˈtā-​kən \; overtaking

Kids Definition of overtake

1 : to catch up with and often pass I overtook the runner ahead.
2 : to come upon or happen to suddenly or without warning One night we were overtaken by a snow-storm while still a mile from the village …— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee

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More from Merriam-Webster on overtake

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overtake

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overtake

Spanish Central: Translation of overtake

Nglish: Translation of overtake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overtake for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overtake

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