We do not believe in over constraining the team beyond its capacity.

I'm having trouble understanding that sentence.

What does "over constraining" mean? I found this but I don't see how those answers help in this example.

I think (hope!) the intent of the original was along the lines of: "We do not believe in pushing the team beyond its capacity."

... but is that restatement truly equivalent to the original example?

many thanks, first time post to ELU!

  • Read literally (and somewhat tongue in cheek), it means, "We do not believe in putting so many restrictions on the team that they lose their minds."
    – Gnawme
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 4:04
  • @Gnawme - I find myself feeling oddly reassured by this explanation. Thank you! Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 12:56
  • Hi Hypo. You are totally confused here. Gnawme was just being sarcastic. It is just a typo, it is meaningless. It is meant to read "overburdening..."
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 3:51
  • Gnawme dude: (1) this site is not funny. (2) jokes are not funny. (3) you are incredibly not funny. (4) your specific "joke" there is incredibly not funny. (5) this is the single most confused site on the entire SO network, and whenever anyone tries to add a "joke" it is spectacularly not funny and merely adds to confusion - and wastes time such as my time is wasting now. And that's not funny.
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 3:53

3 Answers 3


I believe this is either a typo or a case of incorrect usage. Perhaps the person who wrote this wanted to say

"We do not believe in overstraining the team beyond its capacity."

  • ... which, of course, would still be horrible. "Over" already means "beyond capacity".
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 16:32
  • I agree with you. If the person really meant to write overstraining (or any "over-" ) here, it is redundant because of the "beyond capacity". Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 16:55

The sentence is almost certainly just a typo. It makes very little sense.

It's worth noting that in English, there is a real trend to try to write and talk in a "overly complicated" manner. This results in idiocy.

The writer, in their confused mind, probably just meant:

"We do not believe in overloading the team beyond its capacity."

That's a common sort of phrase.

It could be that the writer was being extremely subtle (perhaps sharing an inside joke) and literally meant what it says, but it's 99.9% chance it's simply a typo.

  • But isn't that still a bit redundant? Trying to rephrase your suggestion in the positive gives me: "We do believe in overloading the team within its capacity" or "We do believe in loading the team beyond its capacity." Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 12:47
  • I don't know how clear I can be dude. It is a typographical error. That's all there is to it champ! The person meant to type "overloading the team beyond its capacity" - it's just that simple.
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 3:50
  • It's extremely common in English that very, very stupid people - people who can barely think - have heard a "complicated sounding" "sophisticated" phrase, and they rehash it in a completely incorrect manner, mixing-up words meaninglessly. There is a whole field of study about this. That's all you're seeing here, it's just that simple.
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 3:54

I think that the writer of the original sentence meant to say that "We" are opposed to burdening "the team" with an intolerable number of constraints. This wording would have worked:

Our policy is to avoid imposing unreasonable constraints on the team.

It is possible, of course, that the original author didn't intend to use the word constraining at all—but I don't see any reason to assume that he or she did not. In many real-world instances, onerous internal reporting requirements, unrealistic turn-around times, and needlessly narrow limitations on subject matter can function as harmful constraints on a team's creativity and productivity; and I can imagine that something of this sort was on the author's mind.

But constraining (with its sense of preventing a person or team from moving freely) makes a poor match with "beyond its capacity" (which suggests being pushed outside the bounds of what is reasonable). That combination, reinforced by the completely unnecessary introduction of the word over, yields an overwritten, tone-deaf sentence.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.