Definitions

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

  • noun The destructive use of military force beyond the amount needed to destroy an enemy.
  • noun The excessive use of force in killing an individual or organism.
  • noun Elimination or drastic reduction of an animal population by hunting or killing.
  • noun An excess of what is necessary or appropriate for a particular end.
  • intransitive verb To destroy (an enemy or enemy target) with more force than necessary.
  • intransitive verb To use excessive force in killing (an individual, for example).
  • intransitive verb To kill too many of (a population of animals) for the population to maintain itself in substantial numbers.
  • intransitive verb To apply an excess of what is necessary or appropriate for (a particular end).
  • intransitive verb To engage in overkill.

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

  • noun literally A destructive capacity that exceeds that needed to destroy an enemy; especially with nuclear weapons.
  • noun idiomatic An unnecessary excess of whatever is needed to achieve a goal.
  • verb transitive To destroy something with more (nuclear) force than is required.

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

  • noun the capability to obliterate a target with more weapons (especially nuclear weapons) than are required
  • noun any effort that seems to go farther than would be necessary to achieve its goal

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From over- +‎ kill.

Examples

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