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From over- +‎ kill.

Pronunciation 1[edit]


overkill (uncountable)

  1. (literally, military) A destructive capacity that exceeds that needed to destroy an enemy; especially with nuclear weapons.
    • 1990, Sir William Godfrey Fothergill Jackson, Britain's Defence Dilemma: An Inside View : Rethinking British Defence Policy in the Post-imperial Era, B. T. Batsford Limited
      [The] increase in nuclear missiles available to the West was operationally unnecessary and would only add to the existing nuclear overkill; mixed manning was a formula for military disaster; []
  2. (literally) Destruction beyond what is necessary to kill, especially in murder.
    • 2017, James M. O'Kane, Wicked Deeds: Murder in America, Routledge, →ISBN:
      Bodies that have been stabbed or shot multiple times—far beyond what was sufficient to kill the victim (overkill)— suggest that the victim and assailant knew each other,  []
    • 2018, Lt. James Glennon; Lt. Daniel Marcou; Chuck Remsberg, Street Survival II: Tactics for Deadly Force Encounters, Calibre Press, →ISBN:
      For some killers with a great deal of love/hate for their victims, it [an edged weapon] is the perfect instrument for a maniacal overkill.
    • 2020, Laurel Westbrook, Unlivable Lives: Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism, →ISBN, page 101:
      "Trans people generally don't get stabbed once; they get stabbed 20 times, shot, burned and thrown into a dumpster." [] Their killers, in displaying an especially virulent form of hatred, often went from murder to overkill, attempting to obliterate their victims, perhaps in an attempt to erase them completely, []
  3. (by extension) An unnecessary excess of whatever is needed to achieve a goal.
    24 hours of TV coverage of the US election verged on overkill.
    Should I give you yet more homework, or would that be overkill?
  4. (manufacturing) An unnecessary excess of disposal because of too high criteria of inspection.
    Antonym: underkill

Pronunciation 2[edit]


overkill (third-person singular simple present overkills, present participle overkilling, simple past and past participle overkilled)

  1. (transitive) To destroy something with more (nuclear) force than is required.
  2. (manufacturing) To dispose of too many items because of too-high criteria of inspection.
    Antonym: underkill
  3. To do something excessive to achieve a goal.