over·​turn | \ˌō-vər-ˈtərn \
overturned; overturning; overturns

Definition of overturn 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to turn over : upset overturned the vase

2a : invalidate, destroy the degree to which accident could overturn the schemes of wise men— Oscar Handlin

b : reverse sense 2a overturn a court ruling

intransitive verb

: upset, turn over The car went off the road and overturned several times.


over·​turn | \ˈō-vər-ˌtərn \

Definition of overturn (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of overturning : the state of being overturned

2 : the sinking of surface water and rise of bottom water in a lake or sea that results from changes in temperature that commonly occur in spring and fall

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Synonyms & Antonyms for overturn

Synonyms: Verb

capsize, turn over, upset

Antonyms: Verb


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Examples of overturn in a Sentence


The dog overturned the bowl. The truck went off the road and overturned several times. The court overturned his conviction.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Even with a Democratic majority in the House, the agenda of the Trump administration, from restricting voting rights to demonizing immigrants to overturning Roe v. Wade, isn’t going away. Anna North, Vox, "The midterm election shows white women are finally starting to abandon Trump," 7 Nov. 2018 In Nebraska, a major battleground for the project, opponents are trying to change the makeup of the Nebraska Public Service Commission in hopes of overturning its previous decision to approve an in-state route for the pipeline. Grant Schulte, The Seattle Times, "Keystone XL developer plans to start construction in 2019," 24 Sep. 2018 Second, for all the claims from the right that fears of Kavanaugh overturning Roe are just histrionics, this is a very telling slip. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Brett Kavanaugh Just Called Birth Control “Abortion-Inducing Drugs”," 6 Sep. 2018 Majorities on both sides of the aisle support federal funding for Planned Parenthood and are against overturning Roe v. Wade. Dawn Huckelbridge, Teen Vogue, "Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Threatens Contraception Access, Too," 17 July 2018 The mayor’s spokesman, Craig Gustafson, said city officials have not calculated any updated estimates of the city’s potential liability if the pension cuts are overturned. David Garrick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "If state Supreme Court rules against San Diego on pensions, it could could cost city millions," 14 July 2018 Many analysts also agree that even with the court’s likely philosophical shift, Roe v. Wade might not actually be overturned at all. Julie Rovner, Scientific American, "If High Court Reverses Roe V. Wade, 22 States Poised to Ban Abortion," 11 July 2018 Just one member of the current court, Clarence Thomas, is on record in support of overturning the 45-year-old high court ruling. CBS News, "Supreme Court could limit, but not eliminate, abortion rights," 29 June 2018 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said a lower court erred by overturning the conviction of Sam Ukwuachu based on text messages between the victim and a friend that had not been allowed in trial. Jim Vertuno, Houston Chronicle, "Texas court reinstates ex-Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu's sex assault conviction," 6 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The first is the overturn-without-overturning approach. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh likely gives the Supreme Court the votes to overturn Roe. Here’s how they’d do it.," 5 Oct. 2018 The first is the overturn-without-overturning approach. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh likely gives the Supreme Court the votes to overturn Roe. Here’s how they’d do it.," 5 Oct. 2018 Sadly, outrage over these arrests has been largely overshadowed by the kingdom’s timely overturn of the ban — which came into effect just a month after the activists’ arrests. Rauza Khan, Teen Vogue, "Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Princess Have Been Praised For Being “Progressive” While Our Friend Spent Her Birthday in Jail," 10 Sep. 2018 The first is the overturn-without-overturning approach. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "America under Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 In the last two-minute report released by the NBA the next day, the league determined the overturn on Young’s charge as the correct call. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "That LeBron James charge Ty Lue called unprecedented? The Pacers saw it first," 1 June 2018 Hardy was aided by an instant replay overturn in the fifth when Max Kepler — who doubled home two runs off the right-center field wall and appeared to score the go-ahead run on a single — was called out. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers bullpen falters again in 4-2 loss to Minnesota Twins," 21 May 2018 JaCoby Jones, who doubled twice, scored from second base on the overturn. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers give game away to Texas Rangers, 7-6," 7 May 2018 If one sweep of the cameras doesn’t show an easy overturn, keep the play as is. Chris Chase, For The Win, "7 rules in sports that should be changed today," 3 May 2018

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


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


circa 1592, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for overturn

Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overturn

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

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More Definitions for overturn



English Language Learners Definition of overturn

: to turn (something) over

: to turn over

: to decide that (a ruling, decision, etc.) is wrong and change it


over·​turn | \ˌō-vər-ˈtərn \
overturned; overturning

Kids Definition of overturn

1 : to turn over or upside down Waves overturned the boat.

2 : to reverse or cancel something previously decided or ordered The judge overturned the lower court's ruling.


transitive verb

Legal Definition of overturn 

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More from Merriam-Webster on overturn

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with overturn

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overturn

Spanish Central: Translation of overturn

Nglish: Translation of overturn for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overturn for Arabic Speakers

Comments on overturn

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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