over·​ween·​ing | \ ˌō-vər-ˈwē-niŋ How to pronounce overweening (audio) \

Definition of overweening

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from overweening

overweeningly adverb

Did You Know?

The overweening conceit which the greater part of men have of their own abilities is an ancient evil remarked by the philosophers and moralists of all ages. So wrote Adam Smith in his The Wealth of Nations. But while overweening conceit might be an age-old evil, the word overweening has only been part of English since the 14th century. It developed from the Middle English overwening, the present participle of the verb overwenen, which meant "to be arrogant." That term derived in turn from wenen, which meant "to think" or "to imagine." Today, the adjective overweening is the most widely used of the wenen descendants, but historical texts also occasionally include overween, a term for thinking too highly of your own opinion.

Examples of overweening in a Sentence

a director who has little patience for overweening actors who think they are above taking advice and criticism overweening desire for wealth and fame

Recent Examples on the Web

Ethnic groups with grievances towards an overweening army and state live in overlapping territories. The Economist, "A Chinese development scheme complicates Myanmar’s ethnic conflicts," 29 Aug. 2019 That book in turn became the companion of some of the world’s most overweening leaders. The Economist, "The most scandalous popes in history," 29 June 2019 This diminution of news might be a way for Facebook to walk away from the public sphere—or, at least, appear to walk away—at a time when it has been taken to task for its overweening influence there. Eric Klinenberg, The New York Review of Books, "Sue Halpern," 18 Apr. 2019 In mounting the expedition, the Major was no doubt motivated by the sheer challenge—or, as his critics would say, by an overweening drive for glory. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, "Book Review: The Perils of a Pathfinder," 19 July 2018 Europe will acquire a new slate of European commissioners to manage the overweening Brussels bureaucracy after May’s European Parliament elections. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Europeans Wish They Had a Midterm Election," 8 Nov. 2018 Its weakness is in its overweening trust of the photograph as a faithful reporter. Charles Desmarais, SFChronicle.com, "Bruce Gilden’s grotesques at Pier 24 Photography," 22 June 2018 That does not just mean the overweening clout of the tech titan or the oil baron. The Economist, "Don’t shrink the role of markets—expand it," 10 May 2018 Where Chappaquiddick succeeds is in showing the overweening nature of the Kennedy myth—no one is more sick of the Kennedys than Ted, who longs to escape his fate. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Eternal Return of the Kennedys," 30 Apr. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for overweening

Middle English overwening, present participle of overwenen to be arrogant, from over + wenen to ween

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about overweening

Listen to Our Podcast about overweening

Statistics for overweening

Last Updated

13 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overweening

The first known use of overweening was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overweening



English Language Learners Definition of overweening

formal + disapproving
: too confident or proud
: too great : excessive and unpleasant

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on overweening

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for overweening

Spanish Central: Translation of overweening

Nglish: Translation of overweening for Spanish Speakers

Comments on overweening

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


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

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!