from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A gearing mechanism of a motor vehicle engine that reduces the power output required to maintain driving speed in a specific range by lowering the gear ratio.
  • noun Informal A state of heightened activity or concentration.
  • transitive verb To drive (a vehicle) too far or too long.
  • transitive verb To push (oneself) too far, as in the performance of tasks.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To drive too hard; drive or work to exhaustion.
  • To use to excess.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • verb To drive too hard, or far, or beyond strength.
  • noun (Machinery) A gearing device which causes the drive shaft of an automobile or other machine to rotate at a speed greater than that of the engine crankshaft.
  • noun (Automotive) The gear setting of a motor vehicle at which the overdrive{1} is operative.
  • noun A state of unusually intense activity; ; -- used mostly of the activities of persons or groups.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun dated A gear, on an automobile, higher than the normal top gear.
  • noun A state of heightened activity.
  • verb transitive To drive too hard, or far, or beyond strength.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb drive or work too hard
  • noun the state of high or excessive activity or productivity or concentration
  • noun a high gear used at high speeds to maintain the driving speed with less output power
  • verb make use of too often or too extensively


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Holmes would often do this to himself while working on cases and he and Watson would have to go away on vacation for Holmes to recover.

    July 26, 2012