To look up an entry in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, use the search window above. For best results, after typing in the word, click on the “Search” button instead of using the “enter” key.

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you type them in the search bar. For best results with compound words, place a quotation mark before the compound word in the search window.

guide to the dictionary



The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. Annual surveys have gauged the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists



The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.



The articles in our blog examine new words, revised definitions, interesting images from the fifth edition, discussions of usage, and more.


See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!



Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at

1. Above or upon in position: overpass; overcoat.
2. Superior in rank or importance: overlord.
3. To an inverted or reverse position: overturn.
4. Excessively: overcharge.

[Middle English, from Old English ofer-; see uper in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
o·ver (ōvər)
1. In or at a position above or higher than: a sign over the door; a hawk gliding over the hills.
a. Above and across from one end or side to the other: a jump over the fence.
b. To the other side of; across: strolled over the bridge.
c. Across the edge of and down: fell over the cliff.
3. On the other side of: a village over the border.
a. Upon the surface of: put a coat of varnish over the woodwork.
b. On top of or down upon: clubbed him over the head; tripped over the toys.
a. Through the extent of; all through: walked over the grounds; looked over the report.
b. Through the medium of; via: addressed us over the loudspeaker; can't tell you over the phone.
6. So as to cover: put rocks over a cave entrance; threw a shawl over her shoulders.
7. Up to or higher than the level or height of: The water was over my shoulders.
a. Through the period or duration of: records maintained over two years.
b. Until or beyond the end of: stayed over the holidays.
9. More than in degree, quantity, or extent: over ten miles; over a thousand dollars.
a. In superiority to: won a narrow victory over her rival; a distinct advantage over our competitors.
b. In preference to: selected him over all the others.
11. In a position to rule or control: The director presides over the meeting. There is no one over him in the department.
12. So as to have an effect or influence on: the change that came over you.
13. At a point at which one is no longer troubled by: I'm not quite over the cold I caught last week.
14. While occupied with or engaged in: a chat over coffee.
15. With reference to; concerning: an argument over methods.
1. Above the top or surface: climbed the ladder and peered over.
a. Across to another or opposite side: stopped at the curb, then crossed over.
b. Across the edge, brink, or brim: The coffee spilled over.
c. Across an intervening space: Throw the ball over.
a. Across a distance in a particular direction or at a location: lives over in England.
b. To another often specified place or position: Move your chair over toward the fire.
c. To one's place of residence or business: invited us over for cocktails.
4. Throughout an entire area or region: wandered all over.
a. To a different opinion or allegiance: win someone over.
b. So as to be comprehensible, acceptable, or effective; across: eventually got my point over.
6. To a different person, condition, or title: sign the property over.
7. So as to be completely enclosed or covered: The river froze over. Engineers sealed the tunnel entrance over.
8. Completely through; from beginning to end: Think the problem over. Let's read the memo over.
a. From an upright position: kicked the bookstand over.
b. From an upward position to an inverted or reversed position: turn the paper over.
10. Another time; again: counted his cards over; had to do it over.
11. In repetition: made me write it ten times over.
12. In addition or excess; in surplus: lots of food left over.
13. Beyond or until a specified time: stay a day over.
14. At an end: Summer is over.
A series of six balls bowled from one end of a cricket pitch.
tr.v. o·vered, o·ver·ing, o·vers
To jump over: Horse and rider overed the stile with ease.
Used in two-way radio to indicate that a transmission is complete and a reply is awaited.
over against
As opposed to; contrasted with.
over and above
In addition to: travel expenses over and above entertainment costs.
over and over
Again and again; repeatedly.
over with
Completely finished; done: Let's get the shopping over with.

[Middle English, from Old English ofer; see uper in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: While working as a newspaper editor in the late 1800s, William Cullen Bryant forbade the use of over in the sense of "more than," as in These rocks are over 5 million years old. Bryant provided no rationale for this injunction, but such was his stature that the stipulation was championed by other American editors, who also felt no reason to offer an explanation. Critics later allowed the usage in some contexts, but their reasons are dubious at best. In point of fact, over has been used as a synonym of more than since the 1300s. In our 2009 survey, 86 percent of the Usage Panel accepted over with the meaning "more than." This usage is fully standard.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.