Entries linking to overcompensate
word-forming element meaning variously "above; highest; across; higher in power or authority; too much; above normal; outer; beyond in time, too long," from Old English ofer (from PIE root *uper "over"). Over and its Germanic relations were widely used as prefixes, and sometimes could be used with negative force. This is rare in Modern English, but compare Gothic ufarmunnon "to forget," ufar-swaran "to swear falsely;" Old English ofercræft "fraud."
In some of its uses, moreover, over is a movable element, which can be prefixed at will to almost any verb or adjective of suitable sense, as freely as an adjective can be placed before a substantive or an adverb before an adjective. [OED]
Among the old words not now existing are Old English oferlufu (Middle English oferlufe), literally "over-love," hence "excessive or immoderate love." Over- in Middle English also could carry a sense of "too little, below normal," as in over-lyght "of too little weight" (c. 1400), overlitel "too small" (mid-14c.), overshort, etc.
1640s, "to be equivalent;" 1650s, "to counterbalance, make up for, give a substitute of equal value to," from Latin compensatus, past participle of compensare "to weigh one thing (against another)," thus, "to counterbalance," etymologically "to weigh together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + pensare, frequentative of pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin"). Meaning "to recompense, remunerate" is from 1814. The earlier verb in English was compense (late 14c.). Related: Compensated; compensating.
updated on October 23, 2019