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From Middle English *oversteppen, from Old English ofersteppan, from Proto-Germanic *uberstapjaną (to step over; overstep), equivalent to over- +‎ step. Cognate with Dutch overstappen, German Low German överstappen, German überstapfen, überstepfen.



overstep (third-person singular simple present oversteps, present participle overstepping, simple past and past participle overstepped)

  1. (transitive) To go too far beyond (a limit); especially, to cross boundaries or exceed norms or conventions.
    That color scheme really oversteps the bounds of good taste.
    • 1960 February, Cecil J. Allen, “Locomotive Running Past and Present”, in Trains Illustrated, page 112:
      As a result, there was a gain of 3½ min. from Goraghwood to Dundalk, which we reached 2 min. early. Nevertheless, the customs officials succeeded in overstepping their 13-min. time allowance, and we left 1 min. late.
  2. To take a step in which the foot touches ground too far forward.
    • 1907, University of Nebraska (Lincoln campus). Agricultural Experiment Station, Annual Report - Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station:
      As an instance of this inability to control the muscles well, may be cited the almost constant tendency to understep or overstep especially with the fore legs.
    • 1945, North eastern reporter. second series - Volume 60, page 499:
      If a sense of feeling gave him some knowledge of the width of the steps the fact that the third step was ⅝ of an inch wider could not cause him to overstep, but if it had any effect it would tend to cause him to understep.
    • 2004, Johnny D. Hoskins, Geriatrics and Gerontology of the Dog and Cat, →ISBN, page 358:
      Cerebellar dysfunction is characterized by truncal ataxia, a broad-based stance, dysmetria in which the limbs either overstep (hypermetria) or understep (hypometria), and tremor that is most pronounced when the animal attempts a goal-orientated movement (intention tremor).
  3. To move with a gait such that the hind foot touches the ground forward of the point where the front foot touches the ground.

Derived terms[edit]



overstep (uncountable)

  1. A gait in which the hind foot touches ground in front of where the front foot touches the ground.
    • 2012, Jonathan Poppele, Animal Tracks: Midwest Edition, →ISBN, page 27:
      A few animals, such as bison, commonly use an understep walk, while several species, including black bears, cougars and pronghorn regularly use an overstep walk.
    • 2012, Lawrence Mark Elbroch, Michael Kresky, Jonah Evans, Field Guide to Animal Tracks and Scat of California, →ISBN, page 49:
      Therefore, an understep (where the hind track lies behind the front track) is probably a slower gait than a direct-registering walk where the hind lies on top of the front, and both are probably slower than an overstep walk, where the hind track registers beyond the front track.
  2. A movement in which one oversteps.