over·​ween·​ing | \ˌō-vər-ˈwē-niŋ \

Definition of overweening 

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Other Words from overweening

overweeningly adverb

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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

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 What is remarkable about these pieces isn’t their bravery in the face of an overweening majority. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "The Patriarchy Strikes Back," 17 Jan. 2018 And there was, of course, the overweening cruelty that was his hallmark: mocking people with disabilities, taunting his opponents, ridiculing a Gold Star mom. Cindi Leive, Glamour, "Optimism Interrupted: Cindi Leive on the Legacy of the Women's March," 16 Jan. 2018 Where Reagan channeled disenchantment with overweening government, Obama symbolized America’s transformation into a multiracial country. Jacob Weisberg, Slate Magazine, "He wanted to be a transformational president. He’ll be an inspirational one instead.," 16 Jan. 2017

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.

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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

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for overweening

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

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English Language Learners Definition of overweening

: too confident or proud

: too great : excessive and unpleasant

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More from Merriam-Webster on overweening

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Spanish Central: Translation of overweening

Nglish: Translation of overweening for Spanish Speakers

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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