Definition of overreach in English:



  • 1[no object] Reach out too far.

    ‘never lean sideways from a ladder or overreach’
    • ‘When your muscles don't recover, overload training evolves into overreaching, characterized by fatigue, decreased performance and a recovery time of about 2-3 weeks.’
    • ‘Never overreach, lean out or away, push or pull a ladder while standing on it.’
    • ‘In her clumsy attempt to parry she overreached herself and plummeted from the back of her horse, landing heavily on the ground.’
    • ‘Tighten your tummy muscles and bring the object close to your body. Don't overreach.’
    • ‘Once on your perch, don't overreach or lean when working.’
    1. 1.1Try to do more than is possible.
      ‘the Church overreached itself in securing a territory that would prove impossible to hold’
      • ‘Pissarro does indeed seem to be overreaching himself in this picture.’
      • ‘But the truth is that many who struggle to borrow the money to do so are in danger of overreaching themselves.’
      • ‘As revolutionaries, we must take small steps of rebellion and not overreach ourselves.’
      • ‘Also, he tended to overreach himself by overdoing the glycerine act.’
      • ‘Usually when a great philosopher, such as Kant, overreaches himself, or seems to do so, we can suspect that there is something true in the offing.’
      • ‘Could it be that the Parliament has overreached itself again?’
      • ‘But the EU now looks to have overreached itself.’
      • ‘The day came, however, when the authorities overreached themselves.’
      • ‘The general response of the media has been to treat him as a ‘man of God’ who has perhaps overreached himself in his sincere zeal.’
      • ‘Please tell me if I am overreaching myself but my namesake is an ancient Celtic-Irish goddess, so I feel an affinity with her.’
      • ‘The libertarian wing of the revolution overreached itself, and is now fighting rearguard actions on two fronts: foreign policy and biotechnology.’
      • ‘While applauding the direction he has taken the company, some analysts fear that he loves making deals too much and may overreach himself.’
      • ‘You may be misled by an apparent flash of inspiration; and could overreach yourself if you act on it.’
      • ‘The US overreached itself on this occasion and was forced to take a step back.’
      • ‘He overreached himself, making border raids and claiming large amounts of land as his own.’
      • ‘He overreached himself, living out the image of a global media tycoon without the substance to sustain it.’
      • ‘Hegemons have lots of power and because there is no countervailing force to stop them, they are tempted to use it repeatedly, and thereby overreach themselves.’
      • ‘The younger artist, it appears, had overreached himself, causing offense to the dominating (albeit absent) figure of the Roman artistic scene, or at least to his followers in Rome.’
      • ‘I believe some legislators have overreached themselves in resorting to law provisions to safeguard women's rights.’
      • ‘The question remains as to whether, despite all the praise being lavished on him, he will eventually be seen to have overreached himself.’
      try to do too much, overestimate one's ability, overdo it, overstretch oneself, strain oneself, burn oneself out, wear oneself out, go too far, try to be too clever, try to be too smart, bite off more than one can chew, be too clever by half, have too many irons in the fire, have too many balls in the air, defeat one's own ends, have one's scheme backfire on one, have one's scheme boomerang on one, be hoist with one's own petard
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2(of a horse or dog) bring the hind feet so far forward that they fall alongside or strike the forefeet.
      ‘the horse overreached jumping the first hurdle’
      • ‘When overreaching occurs a horse may strike the sole of the front foot, as it lifts off the ground, with the toe of the hind foot.’
      • ‘Forging and overreaching are indications that the horse is moving out of balance, either in the foot specifically or in the entire body.’
  • 2[with object] Get the better of by cunning; outwit.

    ‘Faustus's lunacy in thinking he can overreach the devil’
    • ‘The plaintiff then amended his complaint to add a claim for relief from the Illinois judgment on the ground that it had been obtained by fraudulently overreaching him.’
    • ‘Let him suspect an officer of trying to overreach him in any matter of unauthorised stores, and he became as adamant.’