overly or over

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the1dsuniverse

Senior Member
Spanish
Hey guys! When you want to say that someone is 'too much of something', should it be, for example, overly reliant or over-reliant?

Overly girly VS over-girly

Overly emotional VS over-emotional

And so on...
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Right. In AE we would say "too girly" but not "overly girly" or "over-girly".

    I am not sure why. As a guess, "overly" is a pretty formal word (which matches "reliant" and "emotional") while "girly" is extremely casual and slangy. So people that say one word probably don't say the other.

    For example my speech includes "overly" but not "girly". I would say "overly feminine".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I do not see anything wrong with Overly girly VS over-girly:

    The store agreed not to stock the range of mainly pink toys that could be seen as overly girly/ over-girly and announce a book titled "Boys are doctors, Girls are Nurses."
     

    the1dsuniverse

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Right. In AE we would say "too girly" but not "overly girly" or "over-girly".

    I am not sure why. As a guess, "overly" is a pretty formal word (which matches "reliant" and "emotional") while "girly" is extremely casual and slangy. So people that say one word probably don't say the other.

    For example my speech includes "overly" but not "girly". I would say "overly feminine".
    Oh okay! I totally get it now. But my question remains, is there any difference between over-adjective and overly adjective? Or are they both interchangeable?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The OED remarks that "over-" died out several hundred years ago and "overly" took its place. However, from the late 19th and early 20th century, "over-" became increasingly popular and overly seems to have become rarer.

    To me both are the same in meaning (i.e. "too") but the "over-" form is more widespread and the "overly" form seems more formal and more associated with the negative.
     
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    Esca

    Senior Member
    ATX
    USA - English
    I strongly prefer "overly girly" instead of "over-girly," which sounds very strange to me.

    I would use "overly" as a default for random adjectives, like "overly red," "overly loud," "overly prickly," "overly finicky," "overly opinionated," "overly arbitrary," or others. I would not use "over-" for any of these.

    I'd use "over-" in cases where it's part of a commonly known phrase, such as "over-emotional" or "over-reliant," ... or of course always in any case where the second part is a verb, as in "overeat" or "overreact."
     
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    the1dsuniverse

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Okay thanks guys! I guess that I'll just go with 'overly' most of the time, since I can't really tell when it's a commonly known phrase or not - I did know over-emotional was a fixed phrase but I didn't know about the rest.
     
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