over·​run | \ ˌō-vər-ˈrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) , ˌō-və- \
overran\ ˌō-​vər-​ˈran How to pronounce overrun (audio) , ˌō-​və-​ \; overrun; overrunning

Definition of overrun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a(1) : to defeat decisively and occupy the positions of
(2) : to invade and occupy or ravage
b : to spread or swarm over : infest
2a : to run or go beyond or past the plane overran the runway
b : exceed overrun a budget
c : to readjust (set type) by shifting letters or words from one line into another
3 : to flow over the river overran its banks


over·​run | \ ˈō-vər-ˌrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) , ˈō-və- \

Definition of overrun (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of overrunning especially : an exceeding of the costs estimated in a contract for development and manufacture of new equipment
2 : the amount by which something overruns
3 : a run in excess of the quantity ordered by a customer

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for overrun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of overrun in a Sentence

Verb The tank divisions overran the countryside. The city was being overrun by enemy troops. The plane overran the runway. His speech overran the time allowed.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a matter of days, the Taliban have overrun the country and assumed control of Kabul, while thousands of Afghans, afraid for their lives, attempt to flee on flights bound for Europe, the US and elsewhere. Alice Stewart, CNN, 17 Aug. 2021 In the span of days, Taliban fighters have overrun a string of provincial capitals as part of a major offensive launched after American and international troops began to pull out of the country in May. NBC News, 11 Aug. 2021 Off the kitchen is a home office, for those who are still working from home in a world previously overrun by COVID-19. Shacamree Gowdy, Chron, 13 July 2021 At the same time, Pentagon leaders and Congress members have expressed concerns that once the U.S. leaves, the Afghan government and its military will be quickly overrun by the Taliban. Lolita C. Baldor, Star Tribune, 19 May 2021 Kabul's airport has been overrun with people desperate to flee Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country. CBS News, 31 Aug. 2021 Many travelers to Lake Tahoe from California drive from Sacramento on U.S. 50, several miles of which were overrun by the Caldor Fire. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 31 Aug. 2021 The civilians, corralled into the city by the swift advance of Taliban fighters, have overrun the airport runway, threatening the airport's continued operation. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 17 Aug. 2021 My Greek publisher and his wife took us out dancing and drinking, and cooked for us one night in their little apartment, which was overrun with children, friends, moussaka, and cigarette smoke. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In December, the state capitol in Salem, Oregon, was overrun by armed protesters after a Republican lawmaker allowed them into the building. Will Carless, USA TODAY, 23 Aug. 2021 Yes, some hospitals were indeed overrun by COVID patients. Aron Ravin, National Review, 17 Aug. 2021 Flames have overrun that much acreage in a single day in California, putting up enough spoke in recent weeks to ruin Salt Lake City’s air quality 500 miles away. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Aug. 2021 In just the past week, the Taliban have overrun government forces, seizing control of roughly two dozen provincial capitals, often without a fight as the Afghan army simply melts away. NBC News, 15 Aug. 2021 Once more, Texas hospitals could be overrun by COVID-19 cases, and the governor has asked providers to postpone elective surgery. Dallas News, 15 Aug. 2021 As the last major city in Afghanistan still in government control, Kabul has been overrun by Afghans fleeing oppressive militant rule as the country faces a humanitarian disaster. Washington Post, 14 Aug. 2021 The ethnically aligned militia groups that have risen to prominence as forces capable of reinforcing government lines also have nearly all been overrun. New York Times, 13 Aug. 2021 Neighboring Nimroz province was overrun in recent days after a weeklong campaign by the Taliban. Fox News, 11 Aug. 2021

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


1898, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About overrun

Time Traveler for overrun

Time Traveler

The first known use of overrun was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near overrun




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for overrun

Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Overrun.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/overrun. Accessed 27 Sep. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overrun



English Language Learners Definition of overrun

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to enter and be present in (a place) in large numbers
: to run or go beyond or past (something)
: to spread over or throughout (something)



English Language Learners Definition of overrun (Entry 2 of 2)

: an amount of money that is spent and that is more than the expected or planned amount


over·​run | \ ˌō-vər-ˈrən How to pronounce overrun (audio) \
overran\ -​ˈran \; overrun; overrunning

Kids Definition of overrun

1 : to take over and occupy by force The outpost was overrun by the enemy.
2 : to run or go past The runner overran second base.
3 : to spread over so as to cover Weeds overran the garden.

More from Merriam-Webster on overrun

Nglish: Translation of overrun for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of overrun for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about overrun


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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