One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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.
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