from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To throw into a confused or disturbed state; upset: "The news is sure to overset him” ( Charles Dickens).
  • transitive v. Printing To set (type or copy) in excess of what is needed.
  • transitive v. Printing To set too much type for (a given space).
  • intransitive v. Printing To set too much material for a given space.
  • n. Printing Too much typeset matter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To set over (something); to cover.
  • v. To overwhelm; to overthrow, defeat.
  • v. To physically disturb (someone); to make nauseous, upset.
  • v. To knock over, capsize, overturn.
  • v. To unbalance (a situation, state etc.); to confuse, to put into disarray.
  • v. to set (type or copy) in excess of what is needed; to set too much type for a given space.
  • v. To translate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An upsetting; overturn; overthrow.
  • n. An excess; superfluity.
  • intransitive v. To turn, or to be turned, over; to be upset.
  • transitive v. To turn or tip (anything) over from an upright, or a proper, position so that it lies upon its side or bottom upwards; to upset.
  • transitive v. To cause to fall, or to fail; to subvert; to overthrow.
  • transitive v. To fill too full.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To set over.
  • To turn over; overturn; capsize.
  • To overthrow; subvert; overturn.
  • To overcome.
  • To overcharge; assess at too high a rate.
  • To be overturned; he upset.
  • To compose or set more type than is needed for a prescribed space.
  • Said of composed type that exceeds in amount the space prescribed.
  • Offset; not set in line: said of rivet-holes, partially blind.
  • n. An upsetting; overturn; ruin.
  • n. An excess; superfluity.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English oversetten ("to set over, upset"), from Old English ofersettan ("to set over, conquer, overcome"), corresponding to over- +‎ set, from Proto-Germanic *uber (“over”) + *satjanan (“to set”). Compare Dutch overzetten ("to ferry, transport, translate"), German übersetzen ("to cross over, translate").


  • How "overset" I was all yesterday by the fierce pain I had suffered, and the want of sleep, and worst of all, I think, the chloroform I had/swallowed/, I cannot describe.

    New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • “Help me,” said the poor fellow, as I drew nigh; but before I could reach the horses, they had turned rapidly round, one of the fore-wheels flew from its axle-tree, the chaise was overset, and the postillion flung violently from his seat upon the field.

    Of phrasebooks, battleship lieutenants and lightning-struck postillions

  • A lemon posset was fine on flavour, but slightly overset.

    Jay Rayner's restaurant review

  • The only true failure of the night was an overset pannacotta, overlaid with a layer of chocolate mousse so heavy it had its own gravitational pull.

    Restaurant review: Kota

  • Shifting around in an effort to help might well overset them all.


  • "She is right, Jason," the Salamander said merrily, making her turn her head so suddenly to look at it that she nearly overset her coffee-cup.

    red dust

  • In my agitation I overset my cup, coffee all over the shop.


  • Her valise sat in a clever tray bolted to the top of an oak washstand, to keep anything placed in it from being overset.

    red dust

  • No bird, no cat; the heavy weight on his chest had been the cot; he had overset it on top of himself.

    Elephant in the City

  • Being overset by the number of choices I had in clothes this morning.

    Silent Movie


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  • o⋅ver⋅set  v. oh-ver-set; n. oh-ver-set Show IPA verb, -set, -set⋅ting, noun

    –verb (used with object)

    1. to upset or overturn; overthrow.

    2. to throw into confusion; disorder physically or mentally.

    –verb (used without object)

    3. to become upset, overturned, or overthrown.

    4. Printing.

    a. (of type or copy) to set in or to excess.

    b. (of space) to set too much type for.


    5. the act or fact of oversetting; upset; overturn.

    6. Also called overmatter. Printing. matter set up in excess of space.


    July 16, 2009