Definition of overdrive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈəʊvədrʌɪv/


1A gear in a motor vehicle providing a gear ratio higher than that of direct drive (the usual top gear), so that the engine speed can be reduced at high road speeds to lessen fuel consumption or to allow further acceleration.
Example sentences
  • It offers smooth shifts and a wide spread of ratios that ideally suit the engine's characteristics - including a tall overdrive fifth gear for quiet, efficient highway cruising.
  • The fifth gear is an overdrive ratio - very economic on longer runs - so the Tino reaches its maximum speed of 110 mph in fourth gear.
  • Unlike other six-speeders, this box doesn't provide an overdrive sixth gear that's pretty well useless at anything under 160 km/h.
1.1A mechanism which permits the exceeding of some normal operating level in a piece of equipment, especially the amplifier of an electric guitar.
Example sentences
  • And I know, just know, as I stomp on the overdrive that it's going to be one of those perfect guitar solos, maybe the perfect solo.
2 [mass noun] A state of great or excessive activity: the city’s worried public relations group went into overdrive
More example sentences
  • I thought I was doing quite well until late yesterday evening it became clear that my heart was not at all happy with the heat, and I had an uncomfortable half hour while it went into overdrive in protest.
  • Throughout the latter part of the 1990's the markets surged ahead, generating untold wealth for some people as all stocks went into overdrive.
  • It's gone on for so long now that I really can't remember when it started, although I suppose that if I cast my mind back everything probably went into overdrive at the end of August.


[with object] (usually as adjective overdriven)
1Drive or work to exhaustion: an overdriven mother of ten children
More example sentences
  • This is probably one source of the ‘hypnotic’ effect that people in this thread have mentioned - you're overdriving part of the brain, it seems.
  • Bruised and shaken, sweating like an overdriven horse, she imagined how pleasant it would be to lie down in the garbage and go to sleep.
2Give (an electric guitar) a distorted sound: pounding drums and overdriven electric guitars
More example sentences
  • Music needs a kick from something other than a badly played overdriven guitar.
  • The Pogues were so punk they didn't need overdriven guitar, breakneck drumming or discontented lyrics.
  • A big, rumbling beat joins with a wobbly bass line so overdriven it sounds on the verge of collapse.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: over|drive

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