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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Of course, overtaking St. Louis for the NL Central crown is still in question. Matt Martell, SI.com, "NL Wild-Card Reset: Can the Mets Pull Off a Minor Miracle?," 16 Sep. 2019 The global management consultancy McKinsey predicts that in 2019 China will overtake the US as the world’s largest fashion market. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "Alibaba designers used AI to shape New York Fashion Week looks," 7 Sep. 2019 Thanks to major political reforms and relaxed visa rules, Ethiopia last year overtook Dubai as a transfer hub for long-haul travel to sub-Saharan Africa too. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "International carriers still dominate Africa’s most profitable air routes," 27 Aug. 2019 Arizona could overtake Wisconsin as the tipping-point state. Nate Cohn, New York Times, "Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign," 19 July 2019 Bill Gates just got overtaken as the second-richest person in the world. Eric Todisco, PEOPLE.com, "Bill Gates Gets Bumped Down on the List of Richest People in the World," 17 July 2019 Pemex has overtaken Petrobras as the world’s most indebted oil company, with long-term liabilities equivalent to 15% of Mexico’s GDP. The Economist, "Latin America’s state-run oil giants are struggling," 12 July 2019 Warren’s lower-polling rivals did nothing to knock her off course or didn’t challenge her attempt to overtake Sanders as the strongest alternative to Biden. Jaclyn Gallucci, Fortune, "Kamala Harris Shuts Down Debate Squabble With Raised Hands," 28 June 2019 But then something happened in the mid-20th century: The great unknown of space overtook the vastness of our ocean, both as a place of wonder and as a territory to be conquered. Eric Desatnik, Quartz, "We should care more about the deep sea than we do deep space," 20 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about overtake

Statistics for overtake

Last Updated

1 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for overtake

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overtake


How to pronounce overtake (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on overtake

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


not being in agreement or harmony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Confusing Words—A Quiz

  • alice with tweedle dee and tweedle dum
  • I invented a brand new toaster robot and ______ it "Sir Toasts-a-Lot."
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!