verb (used with object)

  1. to reach or extend over or beyond: The shelf overreached the nook and had to be planed down.
  2. to go beyond, as a thing aimed at or sought: an arrow that had overreached the target.
  3. to stretch to excess, as by a straining effort: to overreach one’s arm and strain a muscle.
  4. to defeat (oneself) by overdoing matters, often by excessive eagerness or cunning: In trying to promote disunity he had overreached himself.
  5. to strain or exert (oneself or itself) to the point of exceeding the purpose.
  6. to get the better of, especially by deceit or trickery; outwit: Every time you deal with them you wonder if they’re overreaching you.
  7. to overtake.
  8. Obsolete. to overpower.

verb (used without object)

  1. to reach or extend over something.
  2. to reach too far: In grabbing for the rope he overreached and fell.
  3. to cheat others.
  4. (of a running or walking horse) to strike, or strike and injure, the forefoot with the hind foot.
  5. Nautical. to sail on a tack longer than is desirable or was intended; overstand.


  1. (tr) to defeat or thwart (oneself) by attempting to do or gain too much
  2. (tr) to aim for but miss by going too far or attempting too much
  3. to get the better of (a person) by trickery
  4. (tr) to reach or extend beyond or over
  5. (intr) to reach or go too far
  6. (intr) (of a horse) to strike the back of a forefoot with the edge of the opposite hind foot

v.c.1300, “to reach above or beyond” (transitive), from over- + reach (v.). Meaning “to extend over something, to cover it” is from c.1400. Sense of “to reach beyond one’s strength” is from 1560s. As a noun from 1550s. Related: Overreached; overreaching.

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