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From over- +‎ write.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /əʊ.vəˈɹaɪt/
  • (US) IPA(key): /oʊ.vɚˈɹaɪt/
  • (file)


overwrite (third-person singular simple present overwrites, present participle overwriting, simple past overwrote, past participle overwritten)

  1. (transitive, computing) To destroy (older) data by recording new data over it.
    I accidentally saved my unwanted changes and overwrote the version of the document I wanted to keep.
  2. (transitive) To cover in writing; to write over the top of.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To write too much.
    • 2013, Richard Rudin, Trevor Ibbotson, Introduction to Journalism:
      Many trainees consider that by increasing the length of the piece they will construct a good feature. This is often not the case and overwriting can lead to vague and muddled features that confuse the reader and ultimately lose their interest.
  4. (transitive, intransitive) To write in an unnecessarily complicated or florid way; to produce purple prose.
    • 1954, Edwin H. Ford, Edwin Emery, Highlights in the History of the American Press: A Book of Readings, U of Minnesota Press, →ISBN, page 367:
      The Times of course has to pay the price of encyclopaedism by being often dreadfully overwritten, with long paragraphs connected by motley conjunctions.
    • 1986, David Novarr, The Lines of Life: Theories of Biography, 1880-1970, Purdue University Press, →ISBN, page 162:
      He overwrites constantly, but his detailed and understated one-paragraph description of Monroe's apartment in New York (pp. 216-18) injects high voltage into the de casibus tradition.
    • 1989, Michael O'Neill, The human mind's imaginings: conflict and achievement in Shelley's poetry, Oxford University Press, USA:
      That said, the passage just looked at anticipates rather than participates in greatness. It is too adjectival, a stylistic flaw which suggests an insistence more apparent in the ensuing lines (182-91), where one is torn between thinking that Shelley is overwriting and that he is staying close to a feverish intensity.



overwrite (plural overwrites)

  1. (computing) The operation of destroying older data by recording new data over it.
    • 2014, Bruce Middleton, Conducting Network Penetration and Espionage in a Global Environment:
      Tab to the number specifying the number of overwrites and enter a number between 1 and 9.