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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English overwerken, possibly from Old English oferwyrċan (to overwork, overlay), equivalent to over- +‎ work. Cognate with Dutch overwerken (to overwork).


  • (UK) enPR: ō'və-wûkʹ, IPA(key): /ˌəʊvəˈwɜːk/
    • (file)
  • (US) enPR: ō'vər-wûrkʹ, IPA(key): /ˌoʊvɚˈwɝk/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)k


overwork (third-person singular simple present overworks, present participle overworking, simple past and past participle overworked or overwrought)

  1. (transitive) To make (someone) work too hard.
    to overwork a horse
  2. (intransitive) To work too hard.
  3. To fill too full of work; to crowd with labour.
  4. To decorate all over.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English overwerc, from Old English oferweorc, oferġeweorc (an overwork, superstructure, tomb), equivalent to over- +‎ work.



overwork (uncountable)

  1. a superstructure
  2. excessive work
    • 1878, Phosphorus in functional disorders of the nervous system, induced by overwork and other influences incidental to modern life
      Various disordered conditions consequent upon overwork, which are characteristic of modern civilisation.
    • 1996, Wilkie Au, Urgings of the Heart: A Spirituality of Integration:
      When it comes to overwork, denial looms large.
    • 2003, Ernie J Zelinski, Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed, and Overworked:
      The Japanese term for sudden death from overwork.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]