Definition of overflow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌōvərˈflō/
[no object]
1(Especially of a liquid) flow over the brim of a receptacle: chemicals overflowed from a storage tank [with object]: the river overflowed its banks
More example sentences
  • After the river water overflowed the banks, it proceeded northward.
  • If a heavy rain fills the reservoir, the water overflows into a perforated pipe that zigzags under the garden.
  • Suddenly realizing that the water was overflowing, she poured out a bit and wiped off the edges of the mug with a cloth.
1.1(Of a container) be so full that the contents go over or extend above the sides: a bath had overflowed upstairs boxes overflowing with bright flowers (as adjective overflowing) an overflowing ashtray
More example sentences
  • My shelves are full, my bookcase is full, my drawers are overflowing, I have a zillion boxes of stuff and yet more stuff all over the floor.
  • Not only was my Green Box overflowing, but next to it were two black sacks full of paper.
  • Common failings included forgotten scraps of food in refrigerators, fridges not being at the required temperature and waste bins overflowing.
1.2(Of a space) be so crowded that people cannot fit inside: the waiting area was overflowing
More example sentences
  • The hip hop room is overflowing and happening - at least on Thursday nights.
  • Waiting lounges overflowed, as they did at London airports.
  • The hall was overflowing, and the crowd - the decidedly mainstream crowd, please note (only a handful sported dreadlocks) - fired up.
1.3 [with object] Flood or flow over (a surface or area): her hair overflowed her shoulders
More example sentences
  • The large hospital bed and all of the medical equipment overflowed the living room area.
  • In order to overcome this problem when reducing milk over high heat, one should start off with a sufficiently large pan so that even foaming will not overflow the sides.
  • He wore fairly shabby clothes, perhaps better suited for a wanderer, and had green hair overflowing his head, with black streaks running here and there.
spill over, flow over, brim over, well over, pour forth, stream forth, flood
1.4 (overflow with) Be very full of (an emotion or quality): her heart overflowed with joy
More example sentences
  • We don't share our sentiments with friends we have known since school days, but we overflow with emotions in crowded chat rooms.
  • Her voice overflows with unsealed emotion and verbal excess.
  • But right then, just for that moment, however short, it was real, and my heart overflowed with emotion.


Pronunciation: /ˈōvərˌflō/
1 [in singular] The excess or surplus not able to be accommodated by an available space: to accommodate the overflow, five more offices have been built
More example sentences
  • However, sources suggested that this would not have benefited TV3 significantly, as the station would not have been able to accommodate the overflow.
  • We would be delighted to arrange other celebration evenings to accommodate the overflow from that night.
  • LaBonge says the city plans to build a parking area on Fuller to accommodate the overflow, but he has no idea when it will be built.
surplus, excess, additional people/things, extra people/things, remainder, overspill
1.1The flowing over of a liquid: there was some overflow after heavy rainfall an overflow of sewage
More example sentences
  • In the meantime, the city has built two storage facilities in the eastern beaches and one in the western beaches, designed to intercept sewage overflow.
  • The experiment was started to avoid overflow from the existing sewage ponds into the surrounding claypans.
  • The new tank, which was lowered into place by a huge crane, will help prevent flood water overflow and untreated sewage gushing into the River Blackwater.
2 (also overflow pipe) (In a bathtub or sink) an outlet for excess water.
Example sentences
  • When we checked with the building department, the local inspector told us that the water heater is correctly installed and that the overflow pipe complies with the intent of the building code.
  • Position the valve so that the overflow pipe is next to the ballcock.
  • Owing to these considerations, I am still persuaded that exterior termination of the overflow pipe is the more practical solution.
3 Computing The generation of a number or some other data item that is too large for an assigned location or memory space.
Example sentences
  • This may result in unexpected application behavior, accessing a defunct application, incomplete database records or buffer overflow.
  • A properly exploited buffer overflow could allow a hacker to gain root, or superuser, access to a Sendmail server.
  • For example, a single application may require a host server along with dedicated servers for testing, quality control, overflow, mirroring, and so on.


full to overflowing

Completely full.
Example sentences
  • He said: ‘We've got an active gardening club and the old compost bin is always full to overflowing.’
  • With musicians of this quality struggling to fill a 5000 capacity venue, which in any other part of the country would have been full to overflowing, it is no wonder that big names usually refuse to play here.
  • With its best hotels and restaurants full to overflowing, the city is already feeling like a winner no matter which city eventually wins the right to host the 2012 Olympics.


Old English oferflōwan (see over-, flow).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: o·ver·flow

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