See also: overtly

English edit

Etymology edit

over +‎ -ly

Adverb edit

overly (not comparable)

  1. (sometimes proscribed) To an excessive degree.
    Parents can be overly protective of their children.
    Synonyms: too, excessively, superfluously
    • 1821, John Galt, chapter 37, in Annals of the Parish[1], Philadelphia: M. Carey & Sons, page 214:
      [] considering the circumstances of my situation, I saw it would not do for me to look out for an overly young woman, nor yet would it do for one of my ways to take an elderly maiden, ladies of that sort being liable to possess strong-set particularities.
    • 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery, chapter 30, in Anne of Green Gables[2]:
      It’s nothing short of wonderful how she’s improved these three years, but especially in looks. She’s a real pretty girl got to be, though I can’t say I’m overly partial to that pale, big-eyed style myself.
    • 1958, Robert Heinlein, chapter 11, in Have Space Suit—Will Travel[3], New York: Del Rey, page 238:
      Your race is overly sentimental; it distorts your judgment.
    • 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page viii:
      This means, at times, long and perhaps overly discursive discussions of other taxa.
  2. (obsolete) Superficially.
    • 1566, Thomas Blundeville, The Fower Chiefyst Offices Belongyng to Horsemanshippe, London, “The true Arte of Paring, and shooyng all maner of Houes together [] ,” Chapter 5,[4]
      [] let him not touche the quarters nor the heeles at al, vnlesse it be to make the seat of the shoe playne, & let that be done so superficially or ouerly as maye be, so shall the houes remayne alwayes strong.
    • 1604, William Perkins, chapter 6, in A Commentarie or Exposition, vpon the Fiue First Chapters of the Epistle to the Galatians[5], Cambridge, page 482:
      These kinds of reproofes, not vnfitly may be compared to hotte or hastie healing salues, which drawe a faire skinne ouer a fowle wound; which because it is not soundly cured from the bottome, but ouerly healed vp, doth afterward apostemate or fistulate, and becommeth more dangerous and desperate then euer before.
    • 1678, George Mackenzie, The Laws and Customes of Scotland, in Matters Criminal, Edinburgh, Part 1, “Some Crimes punished amongst the Romans, which are not directly in use with us,” p. 347,[6]
      [] I resolved here to touch overly even those crimes which are little considered among us, not only that we might thereby know the genius of that wise Nation; but that we may consider how far it were fit to renew amongst us these excellent Laws.
  3. (obsolete) Carelessly, without due attention.
    • 1629, John Preston, The New Covenant, or the Saints Portion[7], London: Nicolas Bourne, Sermon 9, p. 51:
      [] you shall finde this, that all remissenesse, when a man doth a thing remissely, and ouerly, and perfunctorily, it argues alway a diuided intention, it is an argument that the whole minde is not set on it, but that the intention is distracted, and bestowed on other things:
    • 1728, Daniel Defoe, A Plan of the English Commerce[8], London: Charles Rivington, page 60:
      If you expect the Poor should work cheaper, and not perform their Work slighter and more overly, as we call it, and superficially, you expect what is not in the Nature of the Thing.
  4. (obsolete) With a sense of superiority, haughtily.
    • 1650, John Brinsley the younger, An Antidote against the Poysonous Weeds of Heretical Blasphemies[9], London: Ralph Smith, page 3:
      The third [vice] is Arrogancie, and the fourth Pride, two vices neer a kinne, Cosen germans [] when men shall arrogate much unto themselves; looking overly and superciliously upon others.

Translations edit

Adjective edit

overly (comparative more overly, superlative most overly)

  1. (obsolete) Superficial; not thorough; careless, negligent, inattentive.
    • 1602, Joseph Hall, Virgidemiarium Sixe Bookes[10], London: Robert Dexter, Satire 3, page 52:
      The curteous Citizen bad me to his feast,
      With hollow words, and ouerly request:
      Come, will ye dine with me this Holy day?
      I yeelded, tho he hop’d I would say Nay:
    • 1627, Robert Sanderson, Ten Sermons[11], London: R. Dawlman, Sermon 3, p. 120:
      Hee prayeth but with an ouerly desire, and not from the deepe of his heart, that will not bend his endeauours withall to obtaine what he desireth:
    • 1762, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Elements of Criticism[12], Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & J. Bell, Volume 1, Chapter 2, Part 7, p. 222:
      Concerning the passions in particular, however irregular, headstrong, and perverse, in an overly view, they may appear, I propose to show, that they are by nature adjusted and tempered with admirable wisdom, for the good of society as well as for private good.
  2. (obsolete) Having a sense of superiority, haughty.
    • 1637, Joseph Hall, The Remedy of Prophanenesse[13], London: Nathanael Butter, Book 1, Section 8, p. 66:
      Those that know no better, may rejoyce and exult in these worldly contentments; but those, who have had but a blink of the beauty of heaven, can look upon them no otherwise, than with an overly contemptuousnesse.
  3. (obsolete) Excessive; too great.
    • 1839, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Notes on Baxter’s Life of Himself”, in Henry Nelson Coleridge, editor, The Literary Remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge[14], volume 4, London: W. Pickering, page 140:
      [] there appears a very chilling want of open-heartedness on the part of Owen, produced perhaps by the somewhat overly and certainly most ungracious resentments of Baxter.

Usage notes edit

The word is sometimes deemed erroneous. The American source M-W's Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, 1989, eventually settles on accepting it, but has this to say: "Bache 1869 and Ayres 1881 succinctly insulted contemporaries who used this word, calling them vulgar and unschooled. Times have changed: modern critics merely insult the word itself. Follett 1966, for example, claims that overly is useless, superfluous, and unharmonious, and should be replaced by the prefix over-. Bryson 1984 adds that 'when this becomes overinelegant ... the alternative is to find another adverb [...]'." The prefix over- is safer, and accepted by all: "He seemed over-anxious." M-W, AHD4, and RH include the word without comment, and OED notes only "After the Old English period, rare (outside Scotland and North America) until the 20th cent." In most cases "too" or "excessively" would be better choices than "over-".

Anagrams edit