over the top

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Alternative forms[edit]


over the top ‎(comparative more over the top, superlative most over the top)

  1. (idiomatic) Bold; beyond normal, expected, or reasonable limits; excessive; outrageous.
    He has always had an independent style, but don't you think purple spiky hair is a bit over the top?
    • 2015 February 23, “Oscars 2015: 10 things we learned”, The Guardian (London):
      You might have expected a pop star known for shows in which she has someone vomit paint on to the stage to come up with something similarly over the top for a live rendition of The Sound of Music. But Gaga chose to take the traditional route.
    • 2007, Bruce Jenkins, "The Chronicle Sports Columnist Blog," San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Aug,
      Myers went over the top in the clubhouse, berating a reporter who questioned Myers' terminology.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Over the top occurs only following a copula as the object of a sentence, as above, whereas
  • Over-the-top is used where the adjective occurs before the word it modifies, as
    He gave an over-the-top performance.




over the top ‎(comparative more over the top, superlative most over the top)

  1. (from World War One) Over the parapet of a trench, especially at the start of a futile attack.
    The men were sent over the top to their certain death.
  2. Used other than as an idiom: see over,‎ the,‎ top.


  • "over the top" in the Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.