From Middle English overtaken, likely an replacement alteration (as the Middle English verb taken replaced nimen (to take)), of Middle English overnimen (to overtake), from Old English oferniman (to take by surprise, overtake), equivalent to over- +‎ take.


  • (verb)
    • (UK) IPA(key): /əʊvə(ɹ)ˈteɪk/
    • (US) IPA(key): /oʊvɚˈteɪk/
    • Rhymes: -eɪk
    • (file)
  • (noun)


overtake (third-person singular simple present overtakes, present participle overtaking, simple past overtook, past participle overtaken)

  1. To pass a slower moving object or entity (on the side closest to oncoming traffic).
    The racehorse overtook the lead pack on the last turn.
    The car was so slow we were overtaken by a bus.
    • 2019 October, “Funding for 20tph East London service”, in Modern Railways, page 18:
      The station is planned to include platform loops enabling fast trains to overtake slower ones and is expected to be served by at least four trains per hour towards London.
    Antonym: undertake (to pass a slower moving vehicle on the curbside)
  2. (economics) To become greater than something else
  3. To occur unexpectedly; take by surprise; surprise and overcome; carry away
    Our plans were overtaken by events.


See alsoEdit


overtake (plural overtakes)

  1. An act of overtaking; an overtaking maneuver.
    There wasn't enough distance left before the bend for an overtake, so I had to trundle behind the tractor for another mile.


Norwegian NynorskEdit


overtake (present tense overtek, past tense overtok, past participle overteke, passive infinitive overtakast, present participle overtakande, imperative overtak)

  1. Alternative form of overtaka