The adverb overly has a long history of use in English, but it’s usually unnecessary. The prefix over- conveys the same meaning as overly, and it can be attached (without a hyphen) to any common adjective.


Here are a few examples of overly constructions that could be made less wordy with the prefix over-:

Sure, compensation—particularly pensions and benefits—for many public employees is overly generous [overgenerous]. [Kansas City Star (article now offline)]

The result is an overly autotuned [overautotuned] dance track. [New York Post]

[T]he question of whether government unions are good or bad is overly simplistic [oversimplistic]. [Baltimore Sun]

Overly caffeinated [overcaffeinated] San Francisco … is ground zero for the current coffee craze.  [San Francisco Chronicle]

If your spell-check catches over- coinages such as overcaffeinated and oversimplistic (as ours does), pay it no heed. These are perfectly good words.

1 thought on “Overly”

  1. If
    overly is too “wordy”, what about exceedingly, extremely, inordinately,
    and other longer synonyms? Should we get rid of them all and just use
    the prefix, “over”?


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