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Etymology 1[edit]

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



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.
    • Longfellow
      My days with toil are overwrought.
  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; overtime
    • 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.

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