The word “over-rely” does not seem to appear in online dictionaries, so I’m not sure if I can use it safely. Is there a good synonym?

Here’s an example:

Don’t over-rely on Google for searching the Web.

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    Not everything has to be expressed with a single word. Often phrases are clearer and more eloquent. Consider, "Don't rely exclusively on Google for searching the Web" when you want to express that, though it is useful, there are other resources as well that should not be overlooked. Or, alternatively, "Don't become dependent on Google for searching the web" when you want to imply even more caution regarding the use of Google. "Over-rely" works and is grammatically proper, but sounds like an awkward construction to a native speaker. Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 10:12
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    Remember that Google is not the only way to search the web.
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 11:32
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    What is wrong with the adverb overly? As in "Don't rely overly on Google for searching the Web." (or "Don't overly rely on ...") It means much the same as "excessively" which could also be used. "rely too much" or "rely too heavily" are more alternatives. I'd call "over-rely" a rather painful and unnecessary neologism, but that might just be showing my age.
    – nigel222
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 12:26
  • All of the above comments are better than all of the below answers.
    – John Y
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:49

4 Answers 4


Can you use it safely -- this is a gray area. A possible alternative single word would be


(definition: to emphasize excessively)

You can also rephrase your idea slightly, e.g.

Avoid an over-reliance on google.

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    Can you explain in more detail why you think "overemphasize" would be a good fit? Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 11:49

It's perfectly fine to use "over-rely", and it does appear in dictionaries. The word rely is the verb form of the noun reliance.

Over-reliance (ODO):



Excessive dependence on or trust in someone or something:

an over-reliance on technology

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    Here's why I edited your answer: OED vs ODO :)
    – NVZ
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 5:54
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    @NVZ Oh. Retracted previous comment. I didn't realize OED and ODO were two things. Thanks!
    – phyrfox
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 5:57
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    Asker specifically wanted a verb.
    – John Y
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 5:59
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    @JohnY Yes, my answer predates the edit. Regardless, the sentence could be restructured like the example from the dictionary: "When searching the web, be wary of an over-reliance on Google."
    – phyrfox
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 6:02
  • Well, the request for a verb was right in the subject line, which hasn't changed from the original post. I fully agree that sentence restructuring is often a good option. I think your answer would be better if you explicitly said "hey, why don't you restructure your sentence so that you can use this noun" rather than "here is the noun form for the verb you are looking for".
    – John Y
    Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 14:45

How about "depend upon"? That suggest you can't work without it.

  • That's a synonym for "rely on", not "over-rely on" (which matters if we are to accept the question's premise that there is a functional difference between the two). Commented Sep 1, 2016 at 11:50
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit - I'd suggest there's a slight difference; rely on suggests that you use it frequently can can live without it; depend on suggests you can't do without it. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 11:10
  • I disagree; to rely on something means to be dependent on it. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 12:50
  • (As such, I'm still struggling to imagine what it could mean to "over-rely" on something.) Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 12:51


Abuse: : to use excessively ('abuse alcohol'); to use without medical justification ('abusing painkillers'); to use wrongly, misuse ('abuse privileges'); to use improperly or in harmful amounts ('abuse drugs').

(Merriam Webster)

In many contexts an over-reliance on something implies misuse of that thing, such as a drug. In the case of your Google search example (as in "Don't abuse Google for searching the web") the meaning of 'Abuse' may not be entirely clear, as searching the web is the proper purpose for which Google was made. You could rephrase the sentence to something more specific to your situation (e.g. "Don't abuse Google for conducting a literature review") that conveys a meaning of both misuse and 'over-reliance'.

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