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From Middle English overwēnen (to be presumptuous, be over-confident; presume), from Old English oferwennan and Old English oferwenian (to be proud, become insolent, or presumptuous), equivalent to over- +‎ ween.


overween (third-person singular simple present overweens, present participle overweening, simple past and past participle overweened)

  1. (ergative) To think too highly or arrogantly of (oneself).
    • 1644, Milton, Sonnet IX:
      and they that overween, / And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
    • 2005, A. J. Liebling, published in Just Enough Liebling: Classic Work by the Legendary New Yorker Writer, page 327:
      The clouds on Futurity Day bore out in a general way this prognostication. But he overweened himself.
  2. To make or render arrogant and overweening.
    • 1987 October, in Field & Stream, volume 92, number 6, page 24:
      There is, I suppose, the cheap drama of man sticking his nose into an area where it does little good except to expand his already overweened vanity.
    • 2009, Ariel Dorfman, The Empire's Old Clothes: What the Lone Ranger, Babar, and Other Innocent Heroes Do to Our Minds, page 6:
      Sometimes we manage to come up with original ways of viewing a world hardened, stratified, overweened by its own power, a world which believes itself as omnipotent as its technological achievements might seem to imply.
  3. (proscribed) To overwhelm.
    • 2003, Michael Gelven, What happens to us when we think: transformation and reality, page 44:
      The invasion of a vast enemy host upon the unprepared is unstoppable; the huge phalanx of tanks overweens our small army of trucks and rifles; []

Derived terms[edit]


  • Webster 1913