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 Spain is notorious for its inflexible labor laws, which stifle entrepreneurship, disincentivize hiring, and create a two-tier employment market, and its overweening state, with a tax-to-GDP ratio of 34.6 percent versus 24.5 percent for the U.S. Arvin Bahl, National Review, 12 Sep. 2021 Two decades ago, the Twin Towers were attacked because they were seen as emblems of capitalist arrogance; the complex that replaced them is a monument to overweening caution. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 31 Aug. 2021 Fielder gives a room-temperature deadpan performance as a lonely hustler who has overweening confidence but limited social skills. New York Times, 16 June 2021 Racial bias and the overweening influence of money were cited by the pro-democracy think tank as part of the reason for the decline. Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2021 For decades, conservatives have complained about overweening government stepping on local control and individual rights. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 11 May 2021 The task is to manage the dangerous interactions between a fearful political class and an overweening medical class. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, 8 Apr. 2021 The resulting flood of revenue allows owners to consistently lure top talent, but, in return, breeds overweening expectations in fans — who can be merciless when players fail to live up to the hype. BostonGlobe.com, 14 Dec. 2017 Pedro Pascal imbues Max Lord with a vulnerability that makes his overweening desire for more—money, power, fame, influence—almost tragic; his wish drains him of health and vitality, and also threatens his young son. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 25 Dec. 2020

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

Time Traveler for overweening

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About overweening

Dictionary Entries Near overweening




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for overweening

Last Updated

21 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Overweening.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overweening. Accessed 28 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overweening



English Language Learners Definition of overweening

: too confident or proud
: too great : excessive and unpleasant

More from Merriam-Webster on overweening

Nglish: Translation of overweening for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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