To overwork someone is to force them to work much too hard. Before working hours were regulated in the 1930s, it was more common for bosses to overwork their employees.

If your family owns a farm, you may feel that your parents overwork you all summer until you go back to school in the fall — but there are much more serious cases of employers who overwork their laborers in countries where things like work hours and minimum wage aren't mandated by law. You can use overwork as a noun, too, to mean working too hard or too long: "Overwork made her cranky and tired all the time."

Definitions of overwork
  1. verb
    work excessively hard
    synonyms: exploit
    see moresee less
    drive or work too hard
    type of:
    put to work, work
    cause to work
  2. noun
    the act of working too much or too long
    “he became ill from overwork
    synonyms: overworking
    see moresee less
    type of:
    labor, labour, toil
    productive work (especially physical work done for wages)
  3. verb
    use too much
    “This play has been overworked
    see moresee less
    type of:
    process, work, work on
    shape, form, or improve a material
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week