Do you have friends or colleagues who like to embellish their stories? If you do, you might say that these people have a habit of overexaggerating. But maybe you’ve had someone stop you in your verbal tracks by telling you that overexaggerate isn’t a real word. Is this person right? Or is overexaggerate a word? We’re going to solve the mystery in this post.
Is overexaggerate a word in the dictionary?
If you’re trying to figure out whether you can call overexaggerate a word, you might decide to look it up in a dictionary. If you did that, what would you find? Is overexaggerate a word according to the dictionaries? It depends.
Some dictionaries do recognize overexaggerate as a word. For example, the Collins Dictionary has a dedicated entry for overexaggerate and defines it like this:
- “to exaggerate excessively”
And although the Merriam-Webster dictionary doesn’t have a dedicated entry for the word, it does include overexaggerate on its list of words that take the prefix over-.
But is overexaggerate a word according to all major dictionaries? No. The Oxford Dictionaries doesn’t recognize overexaggerate as a word. In fact, if you search for overexaggerate in this dictionary, you won’t find an entry for it.
Is overexaggerate a word you can use in a sentence?
Let’s assume that overexaggerate is a real word. After all, some dictionaries recognize it as one. Does this mean you can safely use it in a sentence? Well, it depends. (Sorry, we hate to have to give you this answer again!)
Some people say that you shouldn’t use overexaggerate in a sentence because the over- in overexaggerate is redundant with exaggerate. Words or parts of words are redundant when they repeat information that’s already provided by other words or parts of words in the sentence. Some people say that overexaggerate is redundant because exaggerate already conveys the idea of overdoing something or stretching the truth beyond the limits. For example, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines exaggerate like this:
- “to enlarge beyond bounds or the truth”
- “to enlarge or increase especially beyond the normal”
So by adding over- to exaggerate, you end up saying that someone is overdoing the overstating. That’s why some people think overexaggerate doesn’t belong in sentences.
However, some people believe that overexaggerate is a word that’s okay to use in some cases. For example, if you expected someone to exaggerate something (e.g., your partner explaining to his parents why it would be a problem for them to stay with you for six weeks next summer), you might still want to be able to say that he or she overdid it (e.g., your partner made the problems seem so huge that they didn’t seem believable). In this case, saying that your partner exaggerated may not be enough to describe what really happened during the conversation. So using overexaggerate may be just what you need.
So what’s the deal? Is overexaggerate a word and can you use it in a sentence? Because some dictionaries think it isn’t a real word and many people think it’s redundant, we recommend using overexaggerate with caution.
If you really need to express that someone was expected to exaggerate but went overboard, overexaggerate may be okay to use. But if you can do without it, leave it out of your sentences. Like starting a sentence with and, so, or but, using overexaggerate may lead people to question your grammar skills. And although you shouldn’t have to write based on other people’s flawed or rigid grammar knowledge, sometimes it’s the smart thing to do.
Is irregardless a real word? We answer your question in this post.