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overlook definition


This page has 9 definitions of overlook in English. Overlook is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use overlook in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .


Indigenous people overlooking Quito, Ecuador


From Middle English overloken; equivalent to over- +‎ look.



overlook (plural overlooks)

  1. A vista or point that gives a beautiful view.
    • 1980, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (N.R.A.), General Management Plan
      Normally a visitor does not participate in one activity to the exclusion of others. One main activity, such as swimming, will be supplemented by other activities and use of other facilities, such as picnicking, hiking, stopping at an overlook, and so forth.



overlook (third-person singular simple present overlooks, present participle overlooking, simple past and past participle overlooked)

  1. To offer a view (of something) from a higher position.
    Our hotel room overlooks the lake.
  2. To fail to notice; to look over and beyond (anything) without seeing it.
    Synonyms: misheed; see also Thesaurus:fail to notice
    These errors were overlooked by the proofreaders.
    • 1616, Thomas Adams, A Divine Herball, London: John Budge, “Hysope and Humilitie,”[2]
      Let not thy Garden be without this herbe Humilitie. It may be least respected with men; and among other herbs ouerlooked; but most acceptable to God.
    • 1739, David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, London: John Noon, Volume 2, Part 2, Section 2, p. 118,[3]
      We are more apt to over-look in any subject, what is trivial, than what appears of considerable moment []
    • 1898, H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, Book 2, Chapter 7,[4]
      The place had been already searched and emptied. In the bar I afterwards found some biscuits and sandwiches that had been overlooked.
  3. To pretend not to have noticed (something, especially a mistake or flaw); to pass over (something) without censure or punishment.
    Synonyms: take no notice of; see also Thesaurus:ignore
    I’m not willing to overlook such bad behaviour.
    • 1615, Joseph Hall, Contemplations vpon the Principal Passages of the Holie Historie, London: Nathanael Butter and William Butler, Volume 3, “Ehud and Eglon,” p. 48,[5]
      Euery circumstance is full of improbabilities: Faith euermore ouerlookes the difficulties of the way, & bends her eyes onely to the certainty of the end.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, chapter 11, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar [], OCLC 928184292, book 1, page 41:
      Tho’ Miss Bridget was a Woman of the greatest Delicacy of Taste; yet such were the Charms of the Captain’s Conversation, that she totally overlooked the Defects of his Person.
    • 1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter 13, in Emma: [], volume (please specify |volume=I, II or III), London: [] [Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, OCLC 1708336:
      “Mr. Elton’s manners are not perfect,” replied Emma; “but where there is a wish to please, one ought to overlook, and one does overlook a great deal.”
    • 1908 October, Kenneth Grahame, chapter 1, in The Wind in the Willows, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, OCLC 305520:
      Indeed, I have been a complete ass, and I know it. Will you overlook it this once and forgive me, and let things go on as before?
  4. (dated) To look down upon (something) from a place that is over or above.
    to overlook a valley from a hill
  5. (archaic) To supervise, oversee; to watch over.
    to overlook a gang of laborers
    to overlook one who is writing a letter
    • 1590, T[homas] L[odge], “Sonnetto”, in Rosalynde. Euphues Golden Legacie: [], London: Imprinted by Thomas Orwin for T. G[ubbin] and John Busbie, OCLC 35072982; republished [Glasgow: Printed for the Hunterian Club, 1876], OCLC 9437712, folio 60, recto, page 127:
      Ganimede like a prettie Page waited on his Miſtreſſe Aliena, and ouerlookt that al was in a readineſſe againſt the Bridegroome ſhoulde come.
    • c. 1604–1605, William Shakespeare, “All’s VVell, that Ends VVell”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene i]:
      His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, London: T. Passinger, p. 63,[9]
      Be careful in overlooking inferiour servants, that they waste nothing which belongs to your Master and Mistress.
    • 1755, William Gilpin, The Life of Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, London: John & James Rivington, Section 4, p. 59,[10]
      In overlooking the clergy of his diocese, which he thought the chief branch of the episcopal office, exciting in them a zeal for religion, and obliging them at least to a legal performance of their duty, he was uncommonly active, warm, and resolute.
  6. (archaic) To observe or watch (someone or something) surreptitiously or secretly.
    • 1606, Henry Peacham, The Art of Drawing with the Pen, London: William Jones, Book 1, Chapter 7, p. 20,[11]
      [] you had need cause the party whome you will drawe to sit [] without stirring or altering the mouth were it neuer so little: wherefore you shall I beleeue find (a mans face) aboue all other creaturs the most troublesome vnto you: for either they will smile, be ouerlooking your hand, or setting their countenances to seeme gratious and comely, giue you choyse of twentie seuerall faces.
    • 1724, Aaron Hill, The Plain Dealer, No. 33, 13 July, 1724, The Plain Dealer, London: S. Richardson and A. Wilde, 1730, p. 269,[12]
      I lean’d back in my Chair, and overlook’d what he was doing.—But, as if the young Rogue had had Eyes in his Elbows, he broke off what he had begun, and writ, thus, in a new Place.—If an impertinent Old Fellow, that sits by me, did not overlook what I am writing, I should have told you a pleasant Secret—
    • 1839, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, “Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter” in The Watcher and Other Weird Stories, London: Downey, 1894, p. 133,[13]
      The artist turned sharply round, and now for the first time became aware that his labours had been overlooked by a stranger.
  7. (archaic) To inspect (something); to examine; to look over carefully or repeatedly.
    Synonyms: scrutinize; see also Thesaurus:examine
    • 1577, Barnabe Googe, Foure bookes of husbandry, collected by M. Conradus Heresbachius, London, The Epistle to the Reader,[14]
      And therefore I trust thou vvylt accept it as it is, specially considering, that I neither had leysure, nor quietnesse at the dooing of it, neither after the dooing had euer any tyme to ouerlooke it, but vvas driuen to deliuer it to the Printer, as I fyrst vvrote it []
    • 1587, Raphael Holinshed et al., Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, Volume 3, “Richard the third,” p. 757,[15]
      Now when he had ouerlooked his armie ouer euerie side, he paused awhile, and after with a lowd voice and bold spirit spake to his companions these, or the like words following.
    • 1602, Thomas Lodge (translator), The Famous and Memorable Workes of Iosephus, London: G. Bishop et al., Book 5, Chapter 2, p. 109,[16]
      [] this was one of those spies which Moses sent to ouerlooke the land of Chanaan.
    • 1752, Arthur Murphy, The Gray’s Inn Journal No. 21, London: P. Vaillant, 1756, p. 138,[17]
      As the Meanness of my Education had hindered me from knowing any Thing of Law Affairs, I got my two Companions to overlook the Mortgage Deed, and with their Advice signed it []
  8. (archaic) To look upon with an evil eye; to bewitch by looking upon; to fascinate.

Derived terms


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Further reading