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[oh-ver-kil] /ˈoʊ vərˌkɪl/
the capacity of a nation to destroy, by nuclear weapons, more of an enemy than would be necessary for a military victory.
an instance of such destruction.
an excess of what is required or suitable, as because of zeal or misjudgment.
Origin of overkill
1945-50, Americanism; over- + kill1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for overkill
  • What is appropriate for a bank, for example, would be overkill for a small company.
  • That's fine, as long as the league doesn't go overkill in the other direction.
  • Some worry the efforts are overkill and will become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Yes, it's probably overkill for the needs of the average college student.
  • Talk about overkill, if you'll pardon the expression.
  • It was complete and utter overkill for an airport of that size and traffic.
  • Using it straight out of the bottle might be overkill, but it won't be dangerous to eat the food.
  • It would be overkill to restrict their trading rights and impose indeterminable new costs that will be borne by.
  • We soon found that this was overkill because the devices are so simple.
  • Now, again, we're talking about overkill of the administrative review appeal process.
British Dictionary definitions for overkill


the capability to deploy more weapons, esp nuclear weapons, than is necessary to ensure military advantage
any capacity or treatment that is greater than that required or appropriate
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 overkill

1958, from over- + kill (v.). Originally in reference to nuclear arsenals; the general sense is from 1965. The verb is attested from 1946.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for overkill



An excess, esp of needed action: Going twice would be overkill, don't you think?

[1958+; fr the use of the term in connection with the killing potential of nuclear arms and arsenals]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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