"to come up to, catch up with, catch in pursuit," early 13c., from over- + take (v.). According to OED, originally "the running down and catching of a fugitive or beast of chase"; the editors find the sense of over- in this word "not so clear." The meaning "take by surprise, come on unexpectedly" (of storms, night, misfortune) is from late 14c. Related: Overtaken; overtaking. Old English had oferniman "to take away, carry off, seize, ravish."