overweight vs overweigh

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member

Long time, no see (read).

I'm checking one of my students' dissertation, and I've just come across the following sentence:

"...and the aforementioned advantages overweight the disadvantages." (The student is of the opinion that electronic devices make our life easier.)

Context: It's a for and against essay on the role of electronic devices in our life. The sentence in bold has been placed in the last paragraph of the writing as its main conclusion.

Question 1:

Can we use the word overweight as a verb? If so, is the usage of the word in the above sentence correct? Shouldn't it be outweigh?

Question 2:

Some of the dictionaries I've referred to don't mention the word overweight as a verb. Does it mean this kind of usage is uncommon?

Question 3:

What about the word overweigh? Is there much of a difference between the two?

overweight - verb (used with object)
to weight excessively; exceed the weight limit of.
to give too much consideration or emphasis to; stress unduly.

overweigh - verb (used with object)
to exceed in weight; overbalance or outweigh: a respected opinion that overweighs the others.
to weigh down; oppress; burden: gloom that overweighs one's spirits.

Thank you.

  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    I suspect your student meant to say "outweigh." I have never seen "overweight" used as a verb, and "overweigh" sounds very odd.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't think either is correct, or at least they don't use verbs that are common today. I'd say "the advantages outweigh the disadvantages."

    That said, we can use "overweight" in a statistical context. When a number of data points are combined to create a composite value, each data point has a weight. In a simple arithmetic mean all the weights are equal, in a Kalman filter the ratio of weights of successive data points is fixed, but in general the weights can be anything. When one data point is given a higher weight than the others, it can be said to be overweighted. That is a specialized usage, and does not apply to the context of this question.

    Added in edit: Cross-posted. We agree on the essential point of this question.
    < Previous | Next >