Overtake, take over and takeover

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The terms overtake, take over and takeover are similar, but mean very different things. We’ll look at the meaning of overtake, take over and takeover, the origin of the terms and how to use them in sentences.

Overtake means to catch up with someone or something in front of you and pass him. Overtake may also mean to become more successful than something or someone else, or to be overcome by something or someone. The word overtake has been in the English language since the 1200s, the original meaning was to run down a fugitive or an animal. Overtake is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are overtakes, overtook, overtaken, overtaking.

Take over means to take control of something or someone or become responsible for something or someone. Take over may also mean partaking in the process of one company buying out another. Take over is a phrasal verb, related words are takes over, took over, taken over, taking over.

A takeover is the process of one thing assuming control of another. Most specifically, takeover usually refers to the act of one company buying out and assuming control of another. When a takeover is not welcomed by the company being acquired, it is called a hostile takeover. Hostile takeovers were quite common in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States. The compound word takeover first occurred in the late 1800s, it was first used in the corporate sense in the late 1950s. Note that when rendered as two words, take over, the term acts as a verb. When rendered as one word, takeover, the term acts as a noun.


According to sources, when the bus was passing through the railway culvert to reach the GSRTC workshop, Jitu Patel tried to overtake the bus, but he could not do so due to the traffic. (The Indian Express)

The Port of Seattle and Eastside for Hire finalized a five-year, $22.5 million contract last week, and the company will take over taxi duties from Puget Sound Dispatch and Yellow Cab on Oct. 1. (The Seattle Times)

The £1.1bn takeover battle for the listed private equity investor SVG has reunited two women who fought a hostile bid together a decade ago at BAA. (The Telegraph)