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[oh-ver-rahyt] /ˌoʊ vərˈraɪt/
verb (used with object), overwrote, overwritten, overwriting.
to write in too elaborate, burdensome, diffuse, or prolix a style:
He overwrites his essays to the point of absurdity.
to write in excess of the requirements, especially so as to defeat the original intention:
That young playwright tends to overwrite her big scenes.
to write on or over; cover with writing:
a flyleaf overwritten with a dedication.
verb (used without object), overwrote, overwritten, overwriting.
to write too elaborately:
The problem with so many young authors is that they tend to overwrite.
Origin of overwrite
1690-1700; over- + write Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for overwritten
Historical Examples
  • Here the city is all overwritten with black-letter, and the glad Italian sun makes the effect so much the stronger.

  • No hand had overwritten the label of that book there raising it to the peerage, as it were.

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • In virtuality, the sequentiality of written language is overwritten by the very configurational nature of the context.

  • It was seen that firmer fingers had overwritten that inscription with another: "Notes on Women."

    Angela's Business Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • The life of Borrow, unlike that of most famous men of letters, has not been overwritten.

    Immortal Memories Clement Shorter
  • Last night they have overwritten all the city walls with 'Up with the republic!'

British Dictionary definitions for overwritten


verb -writes, -writing, -wrote, -written
to write (something) in an excessively ornate or prolix style
to write too much about (someone or something)
to write on top of (other writing)
to record on a storage medium, such as a magnetic disk, thus destroying what was originally recorded there
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 overwritten



1690s, "to write over other writing," from over- + write (v.). Of computers, it is attested from 1959. Meaning "to write too elaborately or ornately" is from 1923. Related: Overwriting; overwritten.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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