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From Middle English overflowen, from Old English oferflōwan, equivalent to over- +‎ flow.



overflow (countable and uncountable, plural overflows)

  1. The spillage resultant from overflow; excess.
  2. Outlet for escape of excess material.
  3. (computing) The situation where a value exceeds the available numeric range.

Derived terms[edit]



overflow (third-person singular simple present overflows, present participle overflowing, simple past overflowed, past participle overflowed or (US, proscribed) overflown)

  1. (transitive) To flow over the brim of (a container).
    The river overflowed the levee.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, 1 Chronicles 12:15:
      Theſe are they that went ouer Ioꝛden in the firſt moneth, when it had ouerflowen all his* bankes, and they put to flight all them of the valleis, both toward the Eaſt, and toward the Weſt.
    • 1965 January 1, “General Summary of River and Flood Conditions-Continued”, in Climatological Data: National Summary[1], volume 16, number 1, Asheville, NC: United States Weather Bureau, page 265:
      Locally heavy rains on the 21st caused more than 2 feet of overflow on Salt Creek at Ashland, Nebr., on the 22d. Some county roads were inundated. Mill Creek which flows into the Platte River at Louisville, Nebr., overflowed its banks from the heavy rain.
  2. (transitive) To cover with a liquid, literally or figuratively.
    The flash flood overflowed most of the parkland and some homes.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      So when they were working that evening at the pumps, there was on this head no small gamesomeness slily going on among them, as they stood with their feet continually overflowed by the rippling clear water []
  3. (transitive) To cause an overflow. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  4. (intransitive) To flow over the edge of a container.
    The waters overflowed into the Ninth Ward.
  5. (intransitive) To exceed limits or capacity.
    The hospital ER was overflowing with flu cases.
    1. (computing, transitive, intransitive) To (cause to) exceed the available numeric range.
      Calculating 255+1 will overflow an eight-bit byte.
  6. (intransitive) To be superabundant; to abound.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Rogers to this entry?)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Derived terms[edit]



overflow m (plural overflows)

  1. (computing) overflow (situation where a value exceeds the available range)