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


Indigenous people overlooking Quito, Ecuador


From Middle English overloken; equivalent to over- +‎ look.



overlook (plural overlooks)

  1. A vista or point that gives a view down toward something else.
    • 1980, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (N.R.A.), General Management Plan:
      Normally a visitor does not participate in one activity to the exclusion of others. One main activity, such as swimming, will be supplemented by other activities and use of other facilities, such as picnicking, hiking, stopping at an overlook, and so forth.



overlook (third-person singular simple present overlooks, present participle overlooking, simple past and past participle overlooked)

  1. To offer a view (of something) from a higher position.
    Our hotel room overlooks the lake.
    • 1719 May 6 (Gregorian calendar), [Daniel Defoe], The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, [], 3rd edition, London: [] W[illiam] Taylor [], published 1719, →OCLC, page 163:
      [] I took my Gun, and went on Shore, climbing up upon a Hill, which seem’d to over-look that Point, where I saw the full Extent of it, and resolv’d to venture.
    • 1946 July and August, K. Westcott Jones, “Isle of Wight Central Railway—2”, in Railway Magazine, page 244:
      Swinging sharply westwards, it emerges on to the Undercliff, overlooking the English Channel. St. Lawrence Station is very prettily situated, high cliffs on the left, and the lush vegetation of the Undercliff sloping down to the sea on the right.
    • 1950, Nevil Shute, chapter 6, in A Town Like Alice[1], London: Heinemann, published 1952, page 188:
      [] she saw a figure standing by the rail of the balcony that overlooked the backyard.
  2. To fail to notice; to look over and beyond (anything) without seeing it.
    Synonyms: misheed; see also Thesaurus:fail to notice
    These errors were overlooked by the proofreaders.
    • 1616, Thomas Adams, “Hysope and Humilitie”, in A Divine Herball[2], London: John Budge:
      Let not thy Garden be without this herbe Humilitie. It may be least respected with men; and among other herbs ouerlooked; but most acceptable to God.
    • 1739, David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature[3], London: John Noon, Volume 2, Part 2, Section 2, p. 118:
      We are more apt to over-look in any subject, what is trivial, than what appears of considerable moment []
    • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds[4], Book 2, Chapter 7:
      The place had been already searched and emptied. In the bar I afterwards found some biscuits and sandwiches that had been overlooked.
  3. To pretend not to have noticed (something, especially a mistake or flaw); to pass over (something) without censure or punishment.
    Synonyms: take no notice of; see also Thesaurus:ignore
    I’m not willing to overlook such bad behaviour.
    • 1615, Joseph Hall, Contemplations vpon the Principal Passages of the Holie Historie, London: Nathanael Butter and William Butler, Volume 3, “Ehud and Eglon,” p. 48,[5]
      Euery circumstance is full of improbabilities: Faith euermore ouerlookes the difficulties of the way, & bends her eyes onely to the certainty of the end.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, chapter 11, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book 1, page 41:
      Tho’ Miss Bridget was a Woman of the greatest Delicacy of Taste; yet such were the Charms of the Captain’s Conversation, that she totally overlooked the Defects of his Person.
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter 13, in Emma: [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to III), London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, →OCLC:
      “Mr. Elton’s manners are not perfect,” replied Emma; “but where there is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and one does overlook a great deal.”
    • 1908 October, Kenneth Grahame, chapter 1, in The Wind in the Willows, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, →OCLC:
      Indeed, I have been a complete ass, and I know it. Will you overlook it this once and forgive me, and let things go on as before?
  4. To look down upon from above or from a higher location.
    Synonyms: survey, look over, luster, lustrate
    The hill overlooks the valley.
  5. (archaic) To supervise, oversee; to watch over.
    to overlook a gang of laborers
    to overlook one who is writing a letter
    • 1590, T[homas] L[odge], “Sonnetto”, in Rosalynde. Euphues Golden Legacie: [], London: Imprinted by Thomas Orwin for T. G[ubbin] and John Busbie, →OCLC; republished [Glasgow: Printed for the Hunterian Club, 1876], →OCLC, folio 60, recto, page 127:
      Ganimede like a prettie Page waited on his Miſtreſſe Aliena, and ouerlookt that al was in a readineſſe againſt the Bridegroome ſhoulde come.
    • c. 1604–1605 (date written), William Shakespeare, “All’s Well, that Ends Well”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid[8], London: T. Passinger, page 63:
      Be careful in overlooking inferiour servants, that they waste nothing which belongs to your Master and Mistress.
    • 1755, William Gilpin, The Life of Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester[9], London: John & James Rivington, Section 4, p. 59:
      In overlooking the clergy of his diocese, which he thought the chief branch of the episcopal office, exciting in them a zeal for religion, and obliging them at least to a legal performance of their duty, he was uncommonly active, warm, and resolute.
  6. (archaic) To observe or watch (someone or something) surreptitiously or secretly.
    • 1606, Henry Peacham, The Art of Drawing with the Pen[10], London: William Jones, Book 1, Chapter 7, p. 20:
      [] you had need cause the party whome you will drawe to sit [] without stirring or altering the mouth were it neuer so little: wherefore you shall I beleeue find (a mans face) aboue all other creaturs the most troublesome vnto you: for either they will smile, be ouerlooking your hand, or setting their countenances to seeme gratious and comely, giue you choyse of twentie seuerall faces.
    • 1724, Aaron Hill, The Plain Dealer, No. 33, 13 July, 1724, The Plain Dealer, London: S. Richardson and A. Wilde, 1730, p. 269,[11]
      I lean’d back in my Chair, and overlook’d what he was doing.—But, as if the young Rogue had had Eyes in his Elbows, he broke off what he had begun, and writ, thus, in a new Place.—If an impertinent Old Fellow, that sits by me, did not overlook what I am writing, I should have told you a pleasant Secret—
    • 1839, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, “Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter” in The Watcher and Other Weird Stories, London: Downey, 1894, p. 133,[12]
      The artist turned sharply round, and now for the first time became aware that his labours had been overlooked by a stranger.
  7. (archaic) To inspect (something); to examine; to look over carefully or repeatedly.
    Synonyms: scrutinize; see also Thesaurus:examine
    • 1577, Barnabe Googe, Foure bookes of husbandry, collected by M. Conradus Heresbachius[13], London, The Epistle to the Reader:
      And therefore I trust thou vvylt accept it as it is, specially considering, that I neither had leysure, nor quietnesse at the dooing of it, neither after the dooing had euer any tyme to ouerlooke it, but vvas driuen to deliuer it to the Printer, as I fyrst vvrote it []
    • 1587, Raphael Holinshed et al., “Richard the third”, in Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande[14], volume 3, page 757:
      Now when he had ouerlooked his armie ouer euerie side, he paused awhile, and after with a lowd voice and bold spirit spake to his companions these, or the like words following.
    • 1602, Thomas Lodge (translator), The Famous and Memorable Workes of Iosephus, London: G. Bishop et al., Book 5, Chapter 2, p. 109,[15]
      [] this was one of those spies which Moses sent to ouerlooke the land of Chanaan.
    • 1752, Arthur Murphy, The Gray’s Inn Journal No. 21, London: P. Vaillant, 1756, p. 138,[16]
      As the Meanness of my Education had hindered me from knowing any Thing of Law Affairs, I got my two Companions to overlook the Mortgage Deed, and with their Advice signed it []
  8. (archaic) To look upon with an evil eye; to bewitch by looking upon; to fascinate.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]