There are 2 main definitions of overlay in English:


Syllabification: o·ver·lay


Pronunciation: /ˌōvərˈlā
(past and past participle overlaid) [with object] (often be overlaid with)
1Cover the surface of (a thing) with a coating: their fingernails were overlaid with silver or gold
More example sentences
  • In several examples, the base metal is overlaid with silver, and many of the inlays are gold or silver.
  • The unidentified base metals are overlaid with silver.
  • In the rest of the house all parts were overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of-pearl.
cover, face, surface, veneer, inlay, laminate, plaster;
coat, varnish, glaze
1.1Lie on top of: a third screen which will overlay the others
More example sentences
  • The results are displayed on a screen and often overlaid on a map.
  • These images were digitized and overlaid on a computer screen.
  • She seems to be having some kind of a disco thing going on, with her screen overlaid three times on top of itself and a hundred horizontal bars racing up and down the picture.
2(Of a quality or feeling) become more prominent than (a previous quality or feeling): his openness had been overlaid by his new self-confidence
More example sentences
  • Any of us can become terrified at any moment if fear overlays us.
  • Football retained tenacious local loyalties, overlaid by denominational and social rivalries, mediated by the search for success and corresponding reward.
  • Consequently, the difficult circumstances of their current situation are at least partially overlaid by a larger faith in the dignity of labor, the power of collective action, and the ultimate triumph of the working class.


Pronunciation: /ˈōvərˌlā
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1Something laid as a covering over something else: a durable, cost-effective floor overlay
More example sentences
  • Films, coatings, and overlays generally become less cost effective as production quantities increase, especially when the entire surface of work pieces must be hardened.
  • Watch how the pros produce stunning decorative overlays from start to finish, including surface preparation, pre-overlay repair, placing, and finishing.
  • The company's warehouse floor serves as a testing ground for new finishes, overlays, and polishing techniques.
covering, cover, layer, face, surface, veneer, lamination;
coat, varnish, glaze, wash
1.1A transparency placed over artwork or something such as a map, marked with additional information or detail.
More example sentences
  • The structure of the painting reveals itself as do those anatomical diagrams with transparent overlays illustrating the separate skeletal, circulatory, pulmonary and muscular systems.
  • Analysts may create additional overlays as needed.
  • Circle the corresponding number on the reader service card for more information about stampable vertical overlays.
1.2A graphical computer display that can be superimposed on another.
More example sentences
  • Unlike other systems, the device is not an overlay on the plasma display causing image degradation.
  • Actually, these head-to-head duels play out on a computer screen, superimposed in digital video overlay.
  • Channel surfing was quick and the overlay offered a lot of extra info about a program, including an original air date (I can't even get that info on my TiVo).
2 Computing The process of transferring a block of program code or other data into internal memory, replacing what is already stored.
More example sentences
  • New code was added to Maya to remove the requirement for hardware overlay in order to provide compatibility even with nonaccelerated drivers.
2.1A block of code or other data transferred during the overlay process.
More example sentences
  • In addition, MCS-L does not allow users to relate or join external user-defined databases to overlays.

Definition of overlay in: