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[oh-ver-see] /ˌoʊ vərˈsi/
verb (used with object), oversaw, overseen, overseeing.
to direct (work or workers); supervise; manage:
He was hired to oversee the construction crews.
to see or observe secretly or unintentionally:
We happened to oversee the burglar leaving the premises. He was overseen stealing the letters.
to survey or watch, as from a higher position.
to look over; examine; inspect.
Origin of oversee
before 900; Middle English overseen, Old English ofersēon. See over-, see1
Can be confused
overlook, oversee, oversight. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for oversaw
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Austin was at home in the morning and evening and oversaw their work, helping with the heavier part.

  • The younger Vestals, whose attendance on the sacred fire and care of the Temple she oversaw, wondered at her exacting petulance.

    A Friend of Caesar William Stearns Davis
  • Mr. Templeton had two children—a son who was with Price, and a daughter who oversaw the household, the mother being dead.

  • This was no slight aid to her, and leaving the management of the helm to him, she oversaw the management of the piece herself.

British Dictionary definitions for oversaw


verb (transitive) -sees, -seeing, -saw, -seen
to watch over and direct; supervise
to watch secretly or accidentally
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 oversaw



Old English oferseon "to look down upon, keep watch over, survey, observe;" see over + see (v.). Meaning "to supervise" is attested from mid-15c. The verb lacks the double sense of similar overlook, but this emerges in the noun form oversight. Related: Oversaw; overseen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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