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From Middle English overstrecchen, corresponding to over- +‎ stretch. Compare Dutch overstrekken (to overstretch), German überstrecken (to overstretch).



overstretch (third-person singular simple present overstretches, present participle overstretching, simple past and past participle overstretched)

  1. To stretch too far.
    • 1594, Christopher Marlowe, Edward II, London: William Jones,[1]
      The idle triumphes, maskes, lasciuious showes
      And prodigall gifts bestowed on Gaueston,
      Haue drawne thy treasure drie, and made thee weake,
      The murmuring commons ouerstretched hath.
    • 1640, Charles I of England, Speech given to the Lords and Commons, at the Benquetting-House in White-Hall, 25 January, 1640, in The Works of King Charles the Martyr, London: Ric[hard] Chiswell, p. 169,[2]
      If some of [the Bishops] have overstretched their power, and incroached too much upon the Temporalty, if it be so, I shall not be unwilling these things should be redressed and reformed []
    • 1653, Nicholas Culpeper, Pharmacopœia Londinensis, or, The London Dispensatory, London: Peter Cole, p. 50,[3]
      [] outwardly in Oyls or Oyntments, it mightily helps such members as are out of joynt or overstretched.
    • 1783, Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, Dublin: Whitestone et al., Volume 1, Lecture 16, p. 380,[4]
      How far a Hyperbole, supposing it properly introduced, may be safely carried without overstretching it; what is the proper measure and boundary of this figure, cannot, as far as I know, be ascertained by any precise rule.
  2. To stretch over something.