Definition of overplay in English:



  • 1 Give undue importance to; overemphasize:

    ‘he thinks the idea of a special relationship between sitter and artist is much overplayed’
    • ‘Having said all this, it is important not to overplay the Confucian card.’
    • ‘That said, the rural-urban split should not be overplayed as the scale of pre-election intimidation doubtless served to distort the political process in the rural areas.’
    • ‘While this may make the book sound light-hearted (and at times it is very witty) the references are always germane and are never overplayed, so that they open up debates to a broader audience without trivialising the issues.’
    • ‘I haven't looked into the money side of things but I think they have overplayed the amount of work needed to be done.’
    • ‘It's possible to overplay the importance of plotting.’
    • ‘Their major claimed benefits may overplay the importance of sharing knowledge and expertise and underplay issues such as social conflict, cultural difference and opportunism.’
    • ‘In Britain, the police have been criticised for overplaying the risk of such an event taking place here.’
    • ‘However, the importance of the ICJ judgement has been dramatically overplayed by international commentators.’
    • ‘The conclusion is unwarranted, and involves overplaying the disagreements and their importance while ignoring the basic unity of canonical and doctrinal decisions.’
    • ‘I do not think we have ever, at any stage, downplayed the risk to children, but it is important that we do not overplay the risk to children.’
    • ‘It is difficult to overplay the importance of this kind of relationship for a child like Paul.’
    • ‘So I think they've way overplayed this and overstretched this issue.’
    • ‘The reason, he suggested, was that news reports tend to overplay the importance of any particular piece of information.’
    • ‘A Home Office spokesman said the British government would ‘absolutely not’ accept that it was guilty of overplaying the size of the problem in the UK.’
    • ‘The director of the Edinburgh Film Festival said the film was influential but its overall importance was overplayed in Scotland.’
    • ‘The media has displayed utmost irresponsibility by overplaying the story.’
    • ‘I think just about everybody - Guardian, Rutten, Okrent and the Times - is overplaying this issue.’
    • ‘The chief problem with life-style, and the explanation of consumption upon which it rests, is that it overplays the importance of consumption and consumerism in people's lives.’
    • ‘With 83% of all viewing taking place on terrestrial channels, the threat of multi-channel TV, however, is often overplayed.’
    • ‘But some people have criticized the media for overplaying the story and thus feeding public panic.’
    overstate, overemphasize, overstress, overestimate, overvalue, magnify, amplify, aggrandize, inflate
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    1. 1.1 Exaggerate the performance of (a dramatic role):
      ‘the uncontrollable urge of ham actors to overplay their parts’
      • ‘The rest of the cast either underplays their role or overplays it to the point of being far too cartoonish.’
      • ‘He revels in his role as the big jerk, and overplays it to the point of caricature.’
      • ‘This is another inexplicable effort by an actor to overplay a slow, strange character and teach everybody lessons.’
      • ‘Although the audience wants to buy into elements of his contested position of affairs, it has a hard time doing so when the actor overplays his lines.’
      • ‘Too many other bands either overplay their isolation or amplify their anger.’
      • ‘A sparse script and real sensitivity from the actors, none of whom overplay their role, only adds further to the film's power.’
      • ‘A vice-president has ‘moments when his nerves give and he overplays his role’.’
      • ‘The cast, occasionally dominated by the presence of the house itself, never overplays.’
      • ‘While she overplays her final sequence, her performance as a whole works to the movie's favor.’
      • ‘His role is essential, as he's the counterpoint to the bookish and serious Ernesto, and it would be easy to overplay the oversexed Alberto.’
      • ‘No one overplays their role, and provide journeyman performances.’
      • ‘An actor has to be creative, but he can underplay or overplay his role, so a director has to control that.’
      • ‘In overplaying their presence, the artists have lost touch with the basic truth of birth, its essential mystery.’
      • ‘The band also played cohesively, embellishing but never overplaying their respective parts and always supporting the overall feel and purpose of each song.’
      • ‘My only complaint was that there seemed to be a niggling hesitation in some performances and a tendency to overplay parts of the text.’
      • ‘She never overplays her role nor underplays it - in essence, she was the perfect choice for this role and makes a stunning cinematic debut.’
      • ‘Best of all, there is a solid cast of actors who rise to the occasion of the screenplay, never overplaying comic moments but clearly getting the absurdity of every turn.’
      • ‘It would be easy for an actor to mishandle any of these threads, to overplay key moments by slipping into self-indulgence.’
      • ‘He never overplays or goes for the cheap laugh, and thus makes his eccentric character oddly sympathetic.’
      • ‘No longer did she need to exaggerate or overplay - she knew how to use the subtle expressions, the interplay of emotions in her face, to maximum effect.’


  • overplay one's hand

    • 1(in a card game) play or bet on one's hand with a mistaken optimism.

    • 2Spoil one's chance of success through excessive confidence in one's position:

      ‘she chose to overplay her hand and lost the sympathy of those who could have saved her’
      • ‘Overplaying your hand vs. a tight player is probably the easiest way to knock yourself out.’
      • ‘The young agent was so keen to serve the public interest that he overplayed his hand.’
      • ‘With the polls behind him, he went all out and yet again totally overplayed his hand.’
      • ‘A good magician, he explains, anticipates the way in which the audience thinks, never overplays his hand and works intelligently with the belief system of the people in front of him.’
      • ‘It is important to not overplay weaker hands that look good at a big table.’
      • ‘They are rolling with the punches, hoping that the hard-liners will overplay their hand.’
      • ‘The author sometimes seems to overplay his hand.’
      • ‘To start, there's the danger of overplaying your hand.’
      • ‘Do not overplay your hand as this will rebound on you.’
      • ‘Instead, he overplayed his hand and introduced doubts and inconsistencies with his failed dossiers.’