Definition of overstand in English:



  • 1with object To stand over (formerly especially so as to guard or intimidate); to stand higher than or above.

  • 2no object Oxford University"to be overstanding for honours": to be ineligible for honours in an examination because more than the permitted number of terms (normally twelve) has elapsed since one's matriculation.

  • 3with object Sailing. To sail past (a line or mark indicating the course of a race) by staying on a tack for too long.


  • 1with object And without object. To understand. Now used (especially in Caribbean and African-American usage) to avoid the negative connotations of under, perceived as incompatible with the positive meaning of the verb.

  • 2with object And without object. Contrasted with understand in other ways, as: to understand more than is necessary or desirable; to analyse excessively; to understand fully.


Old English; earliest use found in Bede's Ecclesiastical History. From over- + stand. Compare to stand over<br>late 17th century; earliest use found in Edward Ward (1667–1731), satirist. From over- + -stand; in later use independently re-formed.