be obsessed with v. obsess over

nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
I've seen those two expressions.

Before I saw "sb obsess over", I only had known "be obsessed with"

Do they mean the same, and also feel the same?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    They mean roughly the same thing, nagomi. "To obsess over something" sounds a little more active than "to be obsessed with something".

    If you are obsessed with something, you have probably been obsessed with it for a long time. You think about it all the time. It is abnormally important to you.

    If you obsess over something, you can't stop thinking or worrying about something. There is no real implication about time here. You can obsess over something for a short time or a long one.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I would say "obsess over" is informal, mainly because that's how I've heard people use it. I don't recall hearing it years ago so my impression is it came along after "be obsessed with." In my 1970 AHD it says "obsess: 2. to harass or beset like an evil spirit; haunt as a fixed idea." I believe "fixed idea" is an older psychological diagnosis. The "obsess" usages are probably more recent.
    They mean roughly the same thing, nagomi. "To obsess over something" sounds a little more active than "to be obsessed with something".
    :thumbsup:
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I would say "obsess over" is informal, mainly because that's how I've heard people use it. I don't recall hearing it years ago so my impression is it came along after "be obsessed with." In my 1970 AHD it says "obsess: 2. to harass or beset like an evil spirit; haunt as a fixed idea." I believe "fixed idea" is an older psychological diagnosis. The "obsess" usages are probably more recent.
    :thumbsup:

    Thank you for such a detailed reply!
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    "Some people obsess over knowing the exact time."

    That is from a book for those preparing for the TOEFL test. The choice of preposition is over. I looked it up in WR Dictionary, and it gave some results saying that the verb obsess is usually followed by on or over. However, I have seen it used with about. I regard all of them as correct. Does over really sound American to you?
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I don't know that any one of them is specifically correct. I still think the usage is slightly informal or colloquial, though it apparently has gained acceptance in the past few decades. I don't recall hearing "obsess on", while "obsess over" is common. The alternative is "to be obsessed with".
    Does over really sound American to you?
    Americans definitely say it. It may be said in BE as well.
     
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