Etymology 1Edit

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


  • (UK) enPR: ō'və-wûkʹ, IPA(key): /ˌəʊvəˈwɜːk/
    • (file)
  • (US) enPR: ō'vər-wûrkʹ, IPA(key): /ˌoʊvɚˈwɝk/
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)k


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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Longfellow and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      My days with toil are overwrought.
  4. To decorate all over.

Etymology 2Edit

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
    • 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.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit