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[adv. oh-ver-hed; adj., n. oh-ver-hed] /adv. ˈoʊ vərˈhɛd; adj., n. ˈoʊ vərˌhɛd/
over one's head; aloft; up in the air or sky, especially near the zenith:
There was a cloud overhead.
so as to be completely submerged or deeply involved:
to plunge overhead in water; to sink overhead in debt.
situated, operating, or passing above, aloft, or over the head:
an overhead sprinkler system.
of or relating to the general cost of running a business:
overhead expenses; an overhead charge.
the general, fixed cost of running a business, as rent, lighting, and heating expenses, which cannot be charged or attributed to a specific product or part of the work operation.
Accounting. that part of manufacturing costs for which cost per unit produced is not readily assignable.
(in a hoistway) the distance between the last floor level served and the beam supporting the hoisting sheaves or machinery.
(in racket sports) a stroke in which the ball or shuttlecock is hit with a downward motion from above the head; smash.
an overhead compartment, shelf, etc.:
Pillows are in the overhead above each passenger's seat.
Also called overhead shot. Movies, Television. a shot in which the camera is positioned above the actors, especially directly overhead.
a ceiling light in a room:
Turn off the overheads when you leave.
Also called overhead projector. a projector capable of projecting images above and behind the person operating it, thus allowing a lecturer or speaker to remain facing the audience while using it.
Also called overhead projection. a picture or image projected in this manner:
a lecture enhanced with overheads.
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English; see over-, head
Related forms
nonoverhead, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for overhead
  • Compare that to convenience stores, pharmacies overhead costs.
  • At my university, the athletics department gets funds from the general and instruction dollars and research overhead.
  • Tobias compares the overhead costs of various kinds of insurance.
  • The cost of our government is an overhead expense on taxpayers and business should be income providers to taxpayers.
  • By doing so, they create opportunities to cut payroll and overhead costs.
  • Even the cash-strapped airline industry has gone ticketless, removing huge labor and overhead costs.
  • Twice the maturation time means twice the feed, twice the labor, and higher costs for physical infrastructure and other overhead.
  • Finally, you don't have to worry about overhead, infrastructure or benefits costs to employee additional people.
  • Describes standards, reference manuals and safety tips for the application and operation of overhead material handling equipment.
  • One is preprofessional: preparing for a career that will put food on the table and a roof overhead.
British Dictionary definitions for overhead


adjective (ˈəʊvəˌhɛd)
situated or operating above head height or some other reference level
(prenominal) inclusive: the overhead price included meals
adverb (ˌəʊvəˈhɛd)
over or above head height, esp in the sky
noun (ˈəʊvəˌhɛd)
  1. a stroke in racket games played from above head height
  2. (as modifier): an overhead smash
(nautical) the interior lining above one's head below decks in a vessel
short for overhead door
(modifier) of, concerned with, or resulting from overheads: overhead costs
See also overheads
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for overhead

1530s, "above one's head" (adv.), from over- + head. The adjective is attested from 1874. As a noun, short for overhead costs, etc., it is attested from 1914.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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overhead in Culture

overhead definition

All costs of running a business other than wages paid to production workers or payments for raw material to be used in production. Overhead includes the cost of renting or leasing a store in which business is transacted, the cost of heating a factory, and similar expenses.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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overhead in Technology

1. Resources (in computing usually processing time or storage space) consumed for purposes which are incidental to, but necessary to, the main one. Overheads are usually quantifiable "costs" of some kind.
Examples: The overheads in running a business include the cost of heating the building. Keeping a program running all the time eliminates the overhead of loading and initialising it for each transaction. Turning a subroutine into inline code eliminates the call and return time overhead for each execution but introduces space overheads.
2. information, such as control, routing, and error checking characters, that is transmitted along with the user data. It also includes information such as network status or operational instructions, network routing information, and retransmissions of user data received in error.
3. Overhead transparencies or "slides" (usually 8-1/2" x 11") that are projected to an audience via an overhead (flatbed) projector.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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