I've heard of the term "hypercorrection", but then I came across "overregularize" in a psychology textbook. I wondered how it differed from hypercorrect and tried to research it. In doing so, I came across the term "overcompensation" too. I didn't find a simple explanation.

Do "hypercorrection", "overregularization", and "overcompensation" mean different things?

In psychology, or in English in general[?]

The latter, I guess.

  • 1
    Gives us some examples of the word usages (in context). Oct 15, 2014 at 19:22
  • 2
    Are you interested in differences only in psychology, or in English in general. I would appreciate it if you could clarify this in your question.
    – Tsundoku
    Aug 4, 2016 at 18:04
  • No, they're all exactly the same.
    – Greg Lee
    Aug 4, 2016 at 20:42
  • In medical domain, hypercorrection is a curative treatment of scoliosis. In statistics, after a drop, the following increase is sometimes due to an overcompensation (using hypercorrection in this context can be understood, but is not appropriate)
    – Graffito
    Sep 28, 2023 at 23:42

1 Answer 1


Overregularization and hypercorrection both result from analogy, but they occur in different contexts.

Overregularization, according to Nordquist, at ThoughtCo, is common in children's speech when they use regular forms for irregular verbs, such as saying "eated" rather than "ate." So a case of over regularization results from the improper extension of a successfully acquired rule that is part of the speaker's original internalized grammar.

Hypercorrection occurs when a speaker is aware of some feature or structure that is part of "prestigious" or formally taught language, but doesn't learn the formal rule governing its use and uses some other rule as a substitute (for example, using "whom" in the sentence "I don't know whom told you that"). So a case of hypercorrection results from the application of an unsuccessfully acquired rule that is not part of the speaker's original internalized grammar.       [See OxfordLanguages; courtesy of Google]

  • To put it in somewhat different terms, the two are essentially opposites: one takes an irregular form and incorrectly makes it regular; the other takes a regular (as t were) form and incorrectly makes it irregular (as it were). Of course, hypercorrections are often of a type where ‘(ir)regular’ doesn't apply, like adding initial /h/ to words beginning with vowels, so that's only a half-truth; but in cases where it does make sense to apply a regular/irregular dichotomy to the form in question, the two processes go in opposite directions. Oct 24, 2016 at 8:29
  • overcompensation is a psychology term, not language per se.
    – Lambie
    Sep 28, 2023 at 19:50
  • @Misha Tuesday adds the example 'Because ‘jalapeño’ has a tilde, many people write and say ‘habañero peppers’ even though habanero doesn’t have a tilde.' Here, I'd say it is arguably better to speak of wrong patterning rather than wrong application of an inadequately acquired linguistic rule. Sep 29, 2023 at 11:15

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