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From Middle English oversitten (to gain possession of), from Old English ofersittan (to occupy, possess; forbear), from Proto-West Germanic *ubarsittjan (to sit over, occupy, preside over), corresponding to over- +‎ sit. Cognate with Middle Low German ōversitten, ȫversitten (to attend, partake; advise, discuss; miss), Middle Dutch oversitten (to overstay; meet about, discuss), Middle High German übersitzen (to sit across from, occupy; disregard, neglect; exceed, miss).


  • IPA(key): /ˌəʊvə(ɹ)ˈsɪt/
  • (file)


oversit (third-person singular simple present oversits, present participle oversitting, simple past and past participle oversat)

  1. (transitive) To preside over, govern, rule; to control.
    • 1592 [1587], “The third Chapter. That the Wiſedome of the worlde hath acknowledged one onely God”, in Philip of Mornay, translated by Philip Sidney and Arthur Golding, A Worke Concerning the Trewneſſe of the Chriſtian Religion [], London: Robert Robinſon for I. B., page 31:
      He is the Father of Gods and Men, the breeder and Maintainer of all the things whereof this worlde is compoſed: and yet for all that, he entreth not into them, but his power and prouidence ouerſitting them from aboue, atteine vnto all things, []
  2. To conquer, gain control or ownership of.
    • 1903, Robert Smith Surtees, Handley Cross[1]:
      Let me, however, entreat of you, above all things, to remember my ball, and do not let them oversit the thing so as not to get to it.
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) To grasp, comprehend; to understand.
    • 2008, Joseph Hennaleigh, The Spirit of Morph Code[2], →ISBN:
      To Oversit Is to Understand
  4. (archaic) To neglect, omit; to desist, refrain from, forbear.
    • 1881, Thomas Edward Bridgett, History of the Holy Eucharist in Great Britain[3]:
      And he greatly reproaches those who 'forget or oversit the time of housel,' []
  5. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (archaic) To overstay, outstay, overlinger.
  6. (intransitive) To spend too much time sitting.
    • 1932 September 2, Elsie Pierce, “Be Beautiful”, in The Charlotte News, Charlotte, N. C., page 11:
      And Miriam Hopkins taboos fried foods. Asked how she keeps slender she answered, “Live sensibly, never overeat, oversleep or oversit.” That’s about the best reducing advice anyone could give. Next to overeating, oversitting is just about the worst way to destroy a lovely figure.
    • 2008, Pavel G. Somov, Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time, Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, →ISBN, page 105:
      It’s no coincidence that we speak of how much we can eat in one sitting. Oversitting at a dinner table may contribute to overeating, and understanding this may help curb overeating.
    • 2013, Katy Kelly, Melonhead and the We-Fix-It Company, New York, NY: Delacorte Press, →ISBN, page 25:
      Pop doesn’t approve of some things that go on in schools. Like memorizing dates when we could be learning about black holes in space or the life cycle of a grub bug. He’s also against all the sitting that happens in classrooms. I agree. When I oversit, I get energy buildup. That never turns out well.
    • 2016 September 14, Gretchen Reynolds, “Why Fidgeting Is Good Medicine”, in The New York Times[4]:
      Studies of movement patterns indicate that most of us spend between eight and 10 hours each day seated. During that time, our bodies and, in particular, our legs barely move. [] But the most immediate impact of oversitting is on our vasculature. Studies show that uninterrupted sitting causes an abrupt and significant decline in blood flow to the legs.

Related terms[edit]