From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English owerheved, over-hed, over hede (adverb), from Old English oferhēafod (adverb), equivalent to over- +‎ head. Compare German Low German overhoopt, överhoopt, German überhaupt.


overhead (comparative more overhead, superlative most overhead)

  1. located above, especially over the head
    Place your luggage in the overhead lockers.
    • 2017 April 6, Samira Shackle, “On the frontline with Karachi’s ambulance drivers”, in the Guardian[1]:
      In a city where media companies and hospitals have armed guards, this accessibility is unusual. Inside, drivers sit and chat in between shifts, the overhead fan whirring and causing the dim electric light to flicker over their faces.
  2. (soccer) kicked over one's own head
    • 2011 February 12, Phil McNulty, “Man Utd 2 - 1 Man City”, in BBC[2]:
      It was Rooney, however, who produced a moment of inspiration to score a stunning overhead kick that will live forever in the memory of United's fans and extended City's dismal sequence of only one league win in their last 27 visits to Old Trafford.
Derived terms[edit]


overhead (countable and uncountable, plural overheads)

  1. (uncountable, business, accounting) The expense of a business not directly assigned to goods or services provided.
  2. (countable, business, accounting) The items or classes of expense not directly assigned to goods or services provided.
  3. (uncountable) Any cost or expenditure (monetary, time, effort or otherwise) incurred in a project or activity, which does not directly contribute to its progress or outcome.
  4. (uncountable, business) Wasted money.
  5. (tennis) A smash.
  6. (nautical) The ceiling of any enclosed space below decks in a vessel.
  7. A compartment above the seats for stowing luggage in a passenger aircraft.
    • 2013, Rana Florida, Upgrade: Taking Your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary:
      There was no room left in the overheads for our luggage, our seats did not recline, and the washrooms were right behind us.
  8. (transport) The system of overhead wires used to power electric transport, such as streetcars, trains, or buses.
  9. (computing) Data or steps of computation used only to facilitate the computations in the system and not directly related to the actual program code or data being processed.
    Network overhead is the header data that is required to route and transport data over the network, whereas fork overhead is the additional time and memory cost of creating and managing new processes within the operating system.
  10. (juggling, by ellipsis) An overhead throw.
Derived terms[edit]


overhead (comparative more overhead, superlative most overhead)

  1. Above one's head; in the sky.
    birds flying overhead
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter VIII, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
      Now we plunged into a deep shade with the boughs lacing each other overhead, and crossed dainty, rustic bridges over the cold trout-streams, the boards giving back the clatter of our horses' feet: or anon we shot into a clearing, with a colored glimpse of the lake and its curving shore far below us.
  2. (archaic) Per head; for each individual.
    • 1838, Thomas Chalmers, On Church Extension, page 194:
      [] the influence of the minister's week-day attentions, first in creating, and afterwards in keeping up among the people of his parish their habit of Sabbath attendance. So indispensable in towns is the connexion between these two things, that were seat-rents let down at this moment to two shillings overhead, or even annihilated, so as to throw open the whole of the church room at accessible prices to the lowest of the people, we shall greatly mistake the result if we look for a great and visible increase of attendance per saltum on the part of the parish families.



  1. Above.
    • 1976 August 14, Matthew Wolfe, “Cruising a Tea Room or; Does Gertrude Stein Really Drink Coffee”, in Gay Community News, volume 4, number 7, page 15:
      Cigarette smoke was sucked out through the cracks in the glass of the glazed panes overhead the side street and the parking lot.

Etymology 2[edit]

(Sense 1) Abbreviation of overhead projector.
(Sense 2) Back-formation from overhead projector.


overhead (plural overheads)

  1. (countable) An overhead projector.
  2. (countable) A sheet of transparent material with an image used with an overhead projector; an overhead transparency.