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Etymology 1

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From Middle English overleyen, from Old English oferleċġan, from Proto-West Germanic *obarlaggjan, from Proto-Germanic *uberlagjaną, equivalent to over- +‎ lay. Cognate with Saterland Frisian uurläze, úurlääse, Dutch overleggen, German Low German overleggen, överleggen, German überlegen, Swedish överlägga, Norwegian overlegge. Compare overlie.

Pronunciation

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Verb
Noun

Verb

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overlay (third-person singular simple present overlays, present participle overlaying, simple past and past participle overlaid or overlayed)

  1. (transitive) To lay, spread, or apply (something) over or across (something else).
    Near-synonyms: cover, superimpose, superpose
    She will now overlay the crust with fruit.
    She will now overlay fruit on top of the crust.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, “Book I, Canto VII”, in The Faerie Queene. [], London: [] [John Wolfe] for William Ponsonbie, →OCLC, stanza 34, page 99:
      For ſo exceeding ſhone his gliſtring ray,
      That Phœbus golden face it did attaint,
      As when a cloud his beames doth ouer-lay
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book X”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 1140–1141:
      By his preſcript a Sanctuary is fram'd
      Of Cedar, overlaid with Gold,
    • 1943 March and April, “A British Avalanche Shelter”, in Railway Magazine, page 80:
      The hillside at this point is composed of shaly rock overlaid with a peaty loam which carries a growth of heather, and its unstable condition has resulted in two landslides in the course of the railway's history.
  2. To overwhelm; to press excessively upon.
    • c. 1610?, Walter Raleigh, A Discourse of War:
      when any country is overlaid by the multitude which live upon it
  3. (transitive, now rare, archaic) To lie over (someone, especially a child) in order to smother it; to suffocate. [from 14th c.]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, 1 Kings 3:19:
      And this womans childe died in the night: because she ouerlaid it.
    • 1692, John Dryden, Cleomenes, the Spartan Hero, a Tragedy:
      a heap of ashes that o'erlays your fire
    • 1993, Pat Barker, The Eye in the Door (The Regeneration Trilogy), Penguin, published 2014, page 371:
      Prostitutes, thieves, girls who ‘overlaid’ their babies, abortionists who stuck their knitting needles into something vital – did they really need to be here?
  4. (transitive, printing) To put an overlay on.
  5. (transitive, gambling) To bet too much money on.
    • 1890, The Twentieth Century, volume 27, page 934:
      [] he has 'overlaid' his book, and has not succeeded in 'getting round' by bets against the other horses.
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Noun

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overlay (plural overlays)

  1. (photography, graphic arts) An image to be overlaid on another; a superimposition or diapositive.
  2. (printing) A piece of paper pasted upon the tympan sheet to improve the impression by making it stronger at a particular place.
  3. (gambling) Odds which are set higher than expected or warranted. Favorable odds.
  4. (horse racing) A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant, based on its past performances.
  5. A decal attached to a computer keyboard to relabel the keys.
    Synonym: keystrip
    • 1994, Roger Frost, The IT in Secondary Science Book, page 56:
      The keyboard overlay can be a memory jogger and a great help with spelling. In this way the keyboard makes word processing more accessible to younger as well as special needs children.
  6. (programming) A block of program code that is loaded over something previously loaded, so as to replace the functionality.
    • 1986, Noel M. Morris, Computer Graphics and CAD Fundamentals: BBC Micro Version:
      This concept can be extended further by allowing a primary overlay to call a secondary overlay, and so on. However, we will limit ourselves here to the use of primary overlays. Before proceeding further, you need to understand the memory map of the computer, which is a diagram showing the use to which the memory of the computer is put.
  7. (Internet) A pop-up covering an existing part of the display.
  8. (Scotland) A cravat.
  9. A covering over something else.
    • 1943 March and April, “A British Avalanche Shelter”, in Railway Magazine, page 80:
      The first, on January 1, 1883, was attributed to the overlay becoming surcharged with water, due to insufficient drainage, and causing a slip.
    • 1980 August 2, George Whitmore, “Dworkin”, in Gay Community News, page 5:
      I really appreciate the clear explication of Dworkin's understanding of male sexuality. In this we see, without the overlay of polemic that infuses her non-fiction, how Dworkin can proceed from basic feminist principles to create an almost seamless, sophistic argument for sexism.
    • 2024 May 29, Philip Haigh, “The digital revolution and the switch to in-cab signalling”, in RAIL, number 1010, pages 29, 31:
      ECDP [East Coast Digital Programme] started with the Northern City Line, where trains are already being signalled over four miles with ETCS as an overlay on conventional signalling. This means that the colour light signals remain in place and are operational, but any Class 717 that runs onto the route with a driver trained in ETCS must run in that mode. Drivers yet to be trained work as usual. [] With ETCS installed as an overlay, drivers can use trackside or cab signalling according to their competence.
Derived terms
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Translations
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Etymology 2

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Verb

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overlay

  1. simple past of overlie

References

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Anagrams

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