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[oh-ver-teyk] /ˌoʊ vərˈteɪk/
verb (used with object), overtook, overtaken, overtaking.
to catch up with in traveling or pursuit; draw even with:
By taking a cab to the next town, we managed to overtake and board the train.
to catch up with and pass, as in a race; move by:
He overtook the leader three laps from the finish.
to move ahead of in achievement, production, score, etc.; surpass:
to overtake all other countries in steel production.
to happen to or befall someone suddenly or unexpectedly, as night, a storm, or death:
The pounding rainstorm overtook them just outside the city.
verb (used without object), overtook, overtaken, overtaking.
to pass another vehicle:
Never overtake on a curve.
Origin of overtake
1175-1225; Middle English overtaken; see over-, take
Related forms
unovertaken, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for overtake
  • The vine is invasive, killing anything it can overtake by blocking sunlight.
  • But these days, avalanches don't often overtake skiers at resorts because the ski patrol makes sure the slopes are safe.
  • Cold fronts are able to overtake warm fronts because they move faster.
  • Any stalker could obviously overtake and nibble on any defenseless sky-whale whenever it pleased.
  • Eventually, they move up-market and overtake the dominant player.
  • The younger ones among us can watch reality overtake all other high-born considerations.
  • Fatigue and relief from the stress of bombing runs would overtake them.
  • The graphics flow comfortably and enhance the graphic novel feel, rather than overtake it.
  • There are times when without the help of humans introducing species that other species overtake the home range of other animals.
  • Once the fleeing gangsters take to the rural highways, it is usually impossible for the police to overtake them.
British Dictionary definitions for overtake


verb -takes, -taking, -took, -taken
(mainly Brit) to move past (another vehicle or person) travelling in the same direction
(transitive) to pass or do better than, after catching up with
(transitive) to come upon suddenly or unexpectedly: night overtook him
(transitive) to catch up with; draw level with
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 overtake

"to come up to, to catch in pursuit," early 13c., from over- + take (v.). According to OED, originally "the running down and catching of a fugitive or beast of chase"; it finds the sense of over- in this word "not so clear." Related: Overtaken; overtaking. Old English had oferniman "to take away, carry off, seize, ravish."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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