"above or beyond the proper amount or degree," mid-15c., from over (adv.) + -ly. Old English had oferlice "excessively." Used colloquially in place of over- in certain situations. After Old English and until 20c., the word is mostly in Scottish and American English and was often "regarded as an Americanism in the U.K." [OED].
Entries linking to overly
Old English ofer "beyond; above, in place or position higher than; upon; in; across, past; more than; on high," from Proto-Germanic *uberi (source also of Old Saxon obar, Old Frisian over, Old Norse yfir, Old High German ubar, German über, Gothic ufar "over, above"), from PIE root *uper "over."
As an adjective from Old English uffera. The senses of "past, done, finished; through the whole extent, from beginning to end" are attested from late 14c. The sense of "so as to cover the whole surface" is from c. 1400. Meaning "leaning forward and down" is from 1540s. The meaning "recovered from" is from 1929. In radio communication, it is used to indicate the speaker has finished speaking (1926).
Above expresses greater elevation, but not necessarily in or near a perpendicular direction; over expresses perpendicularity or something near it: thus, one cloud may be above another, without being over it. Over often implies motion or extension where above would not; hence the difference in sense of the flying of a bird over or above a house, the hanging of a branch over or above a wall. In such uses over seems to represent greater nearness. [Century Dictionary]
Phrase over and above (mid-15c.) is pleonastic, for emphasis. Adjective phrase over-the-counter is attested from 1875, originally of stocks and shares. To be (someone) all over "be exactly what one expects of (someone)" is by 1721.
suffix forming adjectives from nouns and meaning "having qualities of, of the form or nature of" (manly, lordly), "appropriate to, fitting, suited to" (bodily, earthly, daily); irregularly descended from Old English -lic, from Proto-Germanic *-liko- (Old Frisian -lik, Dutch -lijk, Old High German -lih, German -lich, Old Norse -ligr), related to *likom- "appearance, form" (Old English lich "corpse, body;" see lich, which is a cognate; see also like (adj.), with which it is identical).
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.
updated on November 02, 2019