Overtime vs over time

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and over time are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables overtime and over time, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.

Overtime may be used as a noun or an adverb to mean time worked above the usual amount of hours one is expected to work. For instance, if one’s normal work week consists of 40 hours of work and one works for an additional 8 hours, then those 8 hours are considered overtime. Overtime may also mean the overtime pay one receives for additional work. The amount of overtime compensation a worker is entitled to in a pay period varies from country to country and employer to employer. Some receive straight-time pay or a regular rate of pay; others receive time-and-a-half pay. Generally, compensatory overtime pay is awarded to hourly workers, not salaried workers. In many countries, a department of labor sets fair labor standards. In North America, overtime may also mean a period of time added to the end of a sporting event to decide a tie game. The word overtime is a closed compound word and came into use in the mid-1800s.

Over time is an adverb phrase that describes something that happens little by little, something that occurs gradually. The expression over time is an open compound word that exploded in popularity in the mid-20th century.


Public works employees are battling snow fatigue and overtime costs are spiraling as local municipalities prepare for the third major snowstorm to hit the Northeast in three weeks. (Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice)

Noah Williams scored a career-high 40 points and the Washington State men’s basketball team outlasted Stanford 85-76 in triple overtime on Saturday. (Seattle Times)

Perhaps over time the fact and the legend blend into each other, to the point where it is no longer meaningful to tell them apart. (Irish Times)

The group has attracted performers from all over the southern Piedmont and over time a lot of the Salisbury members moved away or stopped performing. (Salisbury Post)