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[verb oh-ver-ruhn; noun oh-ver-ruhn] /verb ˌoʊ vərˈrʌn; noun ˈoʊ vərˌrʌn/
verb (used with object), overran, overrun, overrunning.
to rove over (a country, region, etc.); invade; ravage:
a time when looting hordes had overrun the province.
to swarm over in great numbers, as animals, especially vermin; infest:
The house had been overrun by rats.
to spread or grow rapidly over, as plants, especially vines, weeds, etc.:
a garden overrun with weeds.
to attack and defeat decisively, occupying and controlling the enemy's position; overwhelm.
to spread rapidly throughout, as a new idea or spirit:
a rekindling of scholarship that had overrun Europe.
to run or go beyond, as a certain limit:
The new jet overran the landing field.
to exceed, as a budget or estimate:
to overrun one's allotted time.
to run over; overflow:
During the flood season, the river overruns its banks for several miles.
  1. to print additional copies of (a book, pamphlet, etc.) in excess of the original or the usual order.
  2. to carry over (type or words) to another page.
  1. to sail past (an intended stopping or turning point) by accident.
  2. (of a ship) to complete (a schedule of calls) more rapidly than anticipated.
to outrun; overtake in running.
verb (used without object), overran, overrun, overrunning.
to run over; overflow:
a stream that always overruns at springtime.
to exceed the proper, desired, or normal quantity, limit, order, etc.:
Do you want to overrun on this next issue?
an act or instance of overrunning.
an amount in excess; surplus:
an overrun of 10,000 copies of a new book.
the exceeding of estimated costs in design, development, and production, especially as estimated in a contract:
a staggering overrun on the new fighter plane.
the amount exceeded:
an overrun of $500,000 for each fighter plane.
a run on an item of manufacture beyond the quantity ordered by a customer and often offered at a discount.
the amount by which the volume of a food, as butter or ice cream, is increased above the original volume by the inclusion of air, water, or another substance:
With only a 20 percent overrun, this is an excellent ice cream.
Origin of overrun
before 900; Middle English overrennen, Old English oferyrnan. See over-, run Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for overrun
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then, if the lion stops suddenly, the man does not overrun before he can check his mount.

    The Land of Footprints Stewart Edward White
  • They overrun the seven continents and their respective seas.

    Rosinante to the Road Again John Dos Passos
  • On one occasion, Cox was required by his employer to attend to his—Perkins'—garden which was overrun with weeds.

  • The benefit overran the merit the first day, and has overrun the merit ever since.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Moreover, they were overrun with cockroaches, rats and other vermin.

    Cuba Arthur D. Hall
British Dictionary definitions for overrun


verb (ˌəʊvəˈrʌn) -runs, -running, -ran, -run
(transitive) to attack or invade and defeat conclusively
(transitive) to swarm or spread over rapidly
to run over (something); overflow
to extend or run beyond a limit
(intransitive) (of an engine) to run with a closed throttle at a speed dictated by that of the vehicle it drives, as on a decline
  1. to print (a book, journal, etc) in a greater quantity than ordered
  2. to print additional copies of (a publication)
(transitive) (printing) to transfer (set type and other matter) from one column, line, or page, to another
(transitive) (archaic) to run faster than
noun (ˈəʊvəˌrʌn)
the act or an instance of overrunning
the amount or extent of overrunning
the number of copies of a publication in excess of the quantity ordered
the cleared level area at the end of an airport runway
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 overrun

Old English oferyrnan; see over- + run (v.). The noun meaning "excess expenditure over budget" is from 1956. Related: Overran; overrunning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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overrun in Technology

1. A frequent consequence of data arriving faster than it can be consumed, especially in serial line communications. For example, at 9600 baud there is almost exactly one character per millisecond, so if a silo can hold only two characters and the machine takes longer than 2 milliseconds to get to service the interrupt, at least one character will be lost.
2. Also applied to non-serial-I/O communications. "I forgot to pay my electric bill due to mail overrun." "Sorry, I got four phone calls in 3 minutes last night and lost your message to overrun." When thrashing at tasks, the next person to make a request might be told "Overrun!" Compare firehose syndrome.
3. More loosely, may refer to a buffer overflow not necessarily related to processing time (as in overrun screw).
[Jargon File]

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