Definition of overdrive in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈōvərˌdrīv/


1A gear in a motor vehicle providing a gear ratio higher than that of the drive gear or top gear, so that engine speed and fuel consumption are reduced in highway travel.
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 state of high or excessive activity: the city’s worried public relations arm 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.
1.2A mechanism that permits a higher than normal operating level in a piece of equipment, such as 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.


[with object] (usually as adjective overdriven)
Drive or work to exhaustion: the overdriven mothers of ten or eleven hungry 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.
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.