from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To shoot or pass over or beyond.
  • intransitive verb To miss by or as if by shooting, hitting, or propelling something too far.
  • intransitive verb To fly beyond or past; overrun.
  • intransitive verb To go beyond; exceed.
  • intransitive verb To shoot or go too far.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To shoot over, as water on a wheel.
  • To shoot or go beyond; fly beyond; hence, to exceed; overstep.
  • To shoot over or beyond, as a mark.
  • To shoot over or too far; hence, to overstep due bounds in any respect.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To fly beyond the mark.
  • transitive verb To shoot over or beyond; to miss.
  • transitive verb To go beyond an intended point or limit.
  • transitive verb To pass swiftly over; to fly beyond.
  • transitive verb To exceed.
  • transitive verb to venture too far; to assert too much.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable The amount by which something goes too far.
  • noun countable, ecology When the population of a species exceeds its environment's carrying capacity.
  • verb To go too far.
  • verb To shoot too far.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb shoot beyond or over (a target)
  • noun an approach that fails and gives way to another attempt
  • verb aim too high


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  • "Increasingly, environmental scientists insist we have overshot the Earth's carrying capacity. I believe they are right; the proof is everywhere. Our inability to live as we do, at our current numbers, without causing pervasive environmental degradation is the very definition of carrying capacity overshoot.

    Overshoot, we know, is followed by population decline. As we have learned form other species, this manifests itself initially with a crash."

    - John Feeney, Population: The elephant in the room, BBC website, 2 Feb 2009.

    February 3, 2009