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over- +‎ lay (compare overlie)




overlay (third-person singular simple present overlays, present participle overlaying, simple past and past participle overlaid or overlayed)

  1. (transitive) To lay, spread, or apply something over or across; cover.
    • Edmund Spenser
      as when a cloud his beams doth overlay
    • Milton
      framed of cedar overlaid with gold
  2. To overwhelm; to press excessively upon.
    • Sir Walter Raleigh
      when any country is overlaid by the multitude which live upon it
  3. (transitive, now rare, archaic) To lie over (someone, especially a child) in order to smother it; to suffocate. [from 14th c.]
    • Bible, 1 Kings iii. 19
      This woman's child died in the night, because she overlaid it.
    • Dryden
      a heap of ashes that o'erlays your fire
    • 1993, Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door, Penguin 2014 (The Regeneration Trilogy), p. 371:
      Prostitutes, thieves, girls who ‘overlaid’ their babies, abortionists who stuck their knitting needles into something vital – did they really need to be here?
  4. (transitive, printing) To put an overlay on.



overlay (plural overlays)

  1. (printing) A piece of paper pasted upon the tympan sheet to improve the impression by making it stronger at a particular place.
  2. (gambling) Odds which are set higher than expected or warranted. Favorable odds.
  3. (horse racing) A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant, based on its past performances.
  4. A decal attached to a computer keyboard to relabel the keys.
    • 1994, Roger Frost, The IT in Secondary Science Book (page 56)
      The keyboard overlay can be a memory jogger and a great help with spelling. In this way the keyboard makes word processing more accessible to younger as well as special needs children.
  5. (programming) A block of program code that is loaded over something previously loaded, so as to replace it.
  6. (Internet) A pop-up.