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[oh-ver-too k] /ˌoʊ vərˈtʊk/
simple past tense of overtake.


[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 overtook
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They thought the heir had been overtook by a fit of passion, and might have done the mischief in it.

    Trevlyn Hold Mrs. Henry Wood
  • On one of these expeditions night overtook him (p. 242) not far from Mingusville.

  • There was a sudden silence that overtook everyone as they saw what was happening.

    The Revolutions of Time Jonathan Dunn
  • Pendergast overtook him, and snatched the collar of the cape-coat.

    The Camp in the Snow William Murray Graydon
  • Between Musselburgh and Tranent he overtook one of his own people.

    Scotch Wit and Humor W. H. (Walter Henry) Howe
  • On the way home she overtook Elsmere returning from an errand for the vicar.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • As the boys walked to the house they overtook Hugh and put this question to him.

    Jack, the Young Ranchman George Bird Grinnell
  • In the wooded lane outside the rectory gate he overtook Catherine.

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
British Dictionary definitions for overtook


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 overtook



"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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