What does overlay mean?

Definitions for overlay
ˌoʊ vərˈleɪ; ˈoʊ vərˌleɪover·lay

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word overlay.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. sheathing, overlay, overlayernoun

    protective covering consisting, for example, of a layer of boards applied to the studs and joists of a building to strengthen it and serve as a foundation for a weatherproof exterior

  2. overlayverb

    a layer of decorative material (such as gold leaf or wood veneer) applied over a surface

  3. overlay, coververb

    put something on top of something else

    "cover the meat with a lot of gravy"

  4. overlie, overlayverb

    kill by lying on

    "The sow overlay her piglets"


  1. Overlayverb

    Specifically: To cover (an object made of an inexpensive metal, glass, or other material) with a thin sheet of an expensive metal, especially with silver or gold. Distinguished from to plate, which is done by a chemical or electrical deposition process.

  2. Overlaynoun

    (Computers) A subroutine which occupies a portion of main memory which is occupied at some other time by another subroutine during execution of the same program. Overlays were used as an older technique to allow larger programs to be executed in restricted main memory space; the same effect is now accomplished by different techniques.


  1. overlaynoun

    A piece of paper pasted upon the tympan sheet to improve the impression by making it stronger at a particular place.

  2. overlaynoun

    Odds which are set higher than expected or warranted. Favorable odds.

  3. overlaynoun

    A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant, based on its past performances.

  4. overlayverb

    To lay, or spread, something over or across; to cover.

  5. overlayverb

    To overwhelm; to press excessively upon.

  6. overlayverb

    To smother with a close covering, or by lying upon.

  7. overlayverb

    To put an overlay on.

  8. Etymology: (compare overlie)

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To Overlayverb

    Etymology: over and lay.

    Some commons are barren, the nature is such,
    And some over-layeth the commons too much. Thomas Tusser.

    Not only that mercy which keepeth from being over-laid and opprest, but mercy which saveth from being touched with grievous miseries. Richard Hooker, b. v. s. 48.

    When any country is over-laid by the multitude which live upon it, there is a natural necessity compelling it to disburthen itself and lay the load upon others. Walter Raleigh.

    We praise the things we hear with much more willingness than those we see; because we envy the present, and reverence the past; thinking ourselves instructed by the one, and over-laid by the other. Ben Jonson.

    Good laws had been antiquated by the course of time, or over-laid by the corruption of manners. Charles I .

    Our sins have over-laid our hopes. Charles I .

    The strong Emetrius came in Arcite’s aid,
    And Palamon with odds was over-laid. Dryden.

    Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
    Like mothers, which their infants over-lay. John Milton.

    Ships burnt in fight, or forc’d on rocky shores,
    The new-born babes by nurses over-laid. Dryden.

    They quickly stifled and over-laid those infant principles, of piety and virtue, sown by God in their hearts; so that they brought a voluntary darkness and stupidity upon their minds. Robert South, Sermons.

    The gods have made your noble mind for me,
    And her insipid soul for Ptolemy:
    A heavy lump of earth without desire,
    A heap of ashes that o’er-lays your fire. Dryden.

    The stars, no longer over-laid with weight,
    Exert their heads from underneath the mass,
    And upward shoot. Dryden.

    Season the passions of a child with devotion, which seldom dies; though it may seem extinguished for a while, it breaks out as soon as misfortunes have brought the man to himself. The fire may be covered and over-laid, but cannot be entirely quenched and smothered. Joseph Addison, Spectator, №. 201.

    In preaching, no men succeed better than those who trust to the fund of their own reason, advanced but not over-laid by commerce with books. Jonathan Swift.

    Phœbus’ golden face it did attaint,
    As when a cloud his beams doth over-lay. Fairy Queen.

    The over-laying of their chapiters was of silver, and all the pillars were filleted with silver. Ex. xxxviii. 17.

    By his prescript a sanctuary is fram’d
    Of cedar, over-laid with gold. John Milton, Par. Lost.

    Thou us impower’d
    To fortify thus far, and over-lay,
    With this portentous bridge, the dark abyss. John Milton.



    In a general computing sense, overlaying means "the process of transferring a block of program code or other data into main memory, replacing what is already stored". Overlaying is a programming method that allows programs to be larger than the computer's main memory. An embedded system would normally use overlays because of the limitation of physical memory, which is internal memory for a system-on-chip, and the lack of virtual memory facilities.


  1. overlay

    Overlay generally refers to a layer that is added over or on top of something. It can be a layer of material, additional information or graphics positioned over an original piece of work, a structure, or a system. The specifics of its meaning can vary based on the context in which it is being used - such as in computing, design, mapping, or construction.


  1. Overlay

    In operating systems, an overlay is the act of a process replacing itself with the code of another program. On Unix-like systems, this is accomplished with the exec system call. In Unix, the only way to run new programs is to fork the running process, and then overlay the new program on top of the child. This is known as the fork-exec technique.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Overlay

    ō-vėr-lā′, v.t. to spread over or across: to cover completely: to smother by lying on (for overlie): to use overlays in printing: to cloud: to overwhelm or oppress: to span by means of a bridge.—ns. O′verlay, a piece of paper pasted on the impression-surface of a printing-press, so as to increase the impression in a place where it is too faint: (Scot.) a cravat; Overlay′ing, a superficial covering: that which overlays: plating.

Matched Categories

How to pronounce overlay?

How to say overlay in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of overlay in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of overlay in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of overlay in a Sentence

  1. Merle Maigre:

    The goal of this exercise is to test and train the defense side, and Red Team is providing fire to make the defense stronger, what makes the exercise special is the focus on specialized systems, such as electricity, telecommunications, public utilities, which ultimately are all controlled by IT. But on top of that, we have married a strategic overlay, so within the Blue Teams there is also a layer of strategic decision makers -- policy experts, legal experts, strategic communications experts.

  2. Ruy Teixeira:

    It's another overlay to the conclusion that there are some parts of the white non-college population that are open to Democrats and can be moved a few points in your direction.

  3. Toby Campbell-Gray:

    They will be playing the 'short' side via the ETF. Hedge funds are pretty nimble, they can get in and out of these things pretty fast, but there is a large 'short' overlay on Greece.

  4. Jessica Kitt:

    We also found that you can overlay the zoomies on top of the cone, and people understand the forecast better, in fact, if they have practice with this, they do a better job of interpreting the NHC cone after this experience than if they did not see the zoomies paired with the cone. So a simple switch for meteorologists might be to show zoomies with the cone.

  5. Richard Peck:

    The political overlay of this case is remarkable, that's probably the one thing that sets it apart from any other extradition case I've ever seen. It's got this cloud of politicization hanging over it.

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Translations for overlay

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"overlay." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 22 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/overlay>.

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    close fighting during the culmination of a military attack
    • A. assault
    • B. disguise
    • C. contribution
    • D. endeavor

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