Definition of overdrive in English:



  • 1A gear in a motor vehicle providing a gear ratio higher than that of direct drive (the usual top gear), so that the engine speed can be reduced at high road speeds to lessen fuel consumption or to allow further acceleration.

    • ‘It offers smooth shifts and a wide spread of ratios that ideally suit the engine's characteristics - including a tall overdrive fifth gear for quiet, efficient highway cruising.’
    • ‘The fifth gear is an overdrive ratio - very economic on longer runs - so the Tino reaches its maximum speed of 110 mph in fourth gear.’
    • ‘Unlike other six-speeders, this box doesn't provide an overdrive sixth gear that's pretty well useless at anything under 160 km/h.’
    • ‘Tall overdrive ratios also improve mileage ratings in EPA highway-cycle tests.’
    • ‘Not a powerful car, even in its day, with only 57 kW on tap, it was designed for the freeways and had an overdrive transmission feature to reduce engine revs by 25 percent.’
    • ‘A four speed automatic with overdrive and lockup torque converter comes standard with the petrol engine.’
    • ‘Standard for this trim is the 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive.’
    • ‘That engine power is then transferred to the wheels by means of a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and a lock-up torque converter.’
    • ‘A variable speed automatic transmission with overdrive is standard.’
    • ‘Most automatic transmission cars will have an overdrive button right on the gearshift.’
    • ‘The manual box is pretty nifty, but heavy to select reverse, and the overdrive sixth and high fifth gears mean it depends on left wrist exercise.’
    • ‘The transmissions will also generally run cooler under a heavy load if you shift down one gear out of overdrive.’
    • ‘It is available in either a five speed manual or an electronically controlled four speed auto with electric overdrive.’
    • ‘In my third year, the overdrive was limited, and we had to rev the cars up to 9,500 rpm.’
    • ‘Get the gears out of overdrive, and only then will you really thrive.’
    • ‘When you use overdrive on the highway, the car's engine speed decreases, reducing the amount of fuel used.’
    • ‘The original three-speed standard transmission has been upgraded to a 700R four-speed automatic transmission with an overdrive lock-up converter.’
    • ‘Sally's problem, however, was with her overdrive transmission.’
    1. 1.1A mechanism which permits the exceeding of some normal operating level in a piece of equipment, especially the amplifier of an electric guitar.
      ‘And I know, just know, as I stomp on the overdrive that it's going to be one of those perfect guitar solos, maybe the perfect solo.’
  • 2mass noun A state of great or excessive activity.

    ‘the city's worried public relations group went into overdrive’
    • ‘I thought I was doing quite well until late yesterday evening it became clear that my heart was not at all happy with the heat, and I had an uncomfortable half hour while it went into overdrive in protest.’
    • ‘Throughout the latter part of the 1990's the markets surged ahead, generating untold wealth for some people as all stocks went into overdrive.’
    • ‘It's gone on for so long now that I really can't remember when it started, although I suppose that if I cast my mind back everything probably went into overdrive at the end of August.’
    • ‘Days after the wedding, the mania went into overdrive.’
    • ‘The rumour mill went into overdrive and the identity of her alleged attacker was said to be a well-known secret in London's close-knit television community.’
    • ‘However, during the few weeks when a trip to Kazakhstan remained a possibility, the football branch of our journalistic fraternity went into overdrive.’
    • ‘They went into overdrive, portraying her as a gold-digging divorcee.’
    • ‘While the gin bottles diminished at an ever-increasing rate in the living-room, the dishwasher went into overdrive in the kitchen.’
    • ‘Asylum-seeker hysteria went into overdrive last week in England.’
    • ‘The media went into overdrive at least a week in advance with daily warnings about the ‘big freeze’ to come.’
    • ‘As Ireland went into overdrive after the break, it was hard to believe they had been involved in such a scrap earlier on.’
    • ‘Many Sunday papers went into overdrive with special editions and extensive coverage charting her long life.’
    • ‘They scored only one point in the remaining minutes while Mayo went into overdrive.’
    • ‘Meinertzhagen went into overdrive, working day and night to persuade staff and clients to stay.’
    • ‘The machine in her mind switched gears and ground into overdrive.’
    • ‘She flawlessly depicts a girl on the edge whose rebellion, in overdrive, is fueling self-destructive behavior.’
    • ‘My mind sped on overdrive for the next week as summer came looming.’
    • ‘It was such a simple question, but I had never been asked anything of the sort and it sent me into an overdrive.’
    • ‘‘Timing constraints threw this program into overdrive,’ he says.’
    • ‘But the European regulations kicked the effort into overdrive.’


[with object]usually as adjective overdriven
  • 1Drive or work to exhaustion.

    ‘an overdriven mother of ten children’
    • ‘This is probably one source of the ‘hypnotic’ effect that people in this thread have mentioned - you're overdriving part of the brain, it seems.’
    • ‘Bruised and shaken, sweating like an overdriven horse, she imagined how pleasant it would be to lie down in the garbage and go to sleep.’
  • 2Give (an electric guitar) a distorted sound.

    ‘pounding drums and overdriven electric guitars’
    • ‘Music needs a kick from something other than a badly played overdriven guitar.’
    • ‘The Pogues were so punk they didn't need overdriven guitar, breakneck drumming or discontented lyrics.’
    • ‘A big, rumbling beat joins with a wobbly bass line so overdriven it sounds on the verge of collapse.’
    • ‘The lack of a significant damping factor is one reason vintage amps sounded so rich on the bottom and so relaxed when overdriven.’
    • ‘A clip-release position simulates an overdriven electronic distortion that could work for guitars or synths.’
    • ‘It is the sound of an overdriven guitar squall tamed by an expert musician into stunning walls of noise.’
    • ‘This gently warped lyricism is soon displaced by ‘electric candyland,’ which is filled with distorted rumbling and overdriven guitar noises ranging from howls to sci-fi lab pulses and whines.’
    • ‘There's a bass hiding in there, peeking out from behind the overdriven rhythm guitars and ponderously formless solos like a shy mammal trying not to be seen.’
    • ‘The band is obsessed by the music of Rhythm and Blues, with its contagious grooves, boogie piano, sax riffs and overdriven guitar solos.’
    • ‘There was a time in my life when I still believed that a crunchy riff from an overdriven guitar amplifier signified something elemental and fierce.’