I saw this video where two policemen, in three different times tell citizens "Don't talk over me" (0:12) or "you are talking over me" (3:37 also 3:44). It seems that all of these mentions in the video are with the same meaning. Anyway I don't know what it means but based on the context, I can guess that the meaning is "don't talk to me in a way that you are over me or better than me". Isn't it?

I searched for the meaning on this online dictionary and I'm not sure which one of the definitions matches this context, if any.

talk over

  1. Discuss thoroughly, as in Let's talk over the entire plan and see if we discover any flaws. [First half of 1700s]

  2. Win someone over by persuasion, as in We talked them over to our point of view. [First half of 1800s] Also see talk around. See also: talk

talk over

v. 1. To consider something thoroughly in conversation; discuss something: We talked the matter over. The panel talked over the proposal.

  1. To succeed in gaining the favor or support of someone by persuasion: We talked them over to our side.

  2. To speak and be heard amid some loud noise: It is impossible to talk over the noise of the machines.


When a person is the object of the preposition over, "talking over" is a type of interruption. The policeman was saying something, and the other person started talking before the policeman had finished all of what he was going to say.

Often when a person is interrupted, they will stop talking and let the other person go ahead and make their statement. However, the original speaker may not stop talking when the other person starts, expecting that the other person will quickly realize that they need to go back to listening and stop their interruption. When this does not happen, and both people end up speaking at the same time, the interrupter is said to be "talking over" the original person.

When someone is being persuaded, the phrasal-verb construction requires that the phrasal verb be 'split', with the object coming between the verb and the phrasal particle: "I talked him over". When someone is being interrupted, they will be placed after the preposition: "I talked over him".

  • 4
    Thank you 1+. So you suggest another interpretation than J.R. Answer. Basically what you're saying is that the meaning of "talk over" in this context is "to talk to a person while he is already talking". kind of making second layer of speech over the first layer. Did I get you properly? – Scarcely Ponder May 30 '17 at 17:30
  • 1
    This happens a lot in Internet voice chat, and can also be called "stepping on someone". "Hey newbie, stop stepping on other people, you will get a chance to talk." – ColleenV May 30 '17 at 17:30
  • 7
    @VersatileandAffordable Yes, that's a very good way of expressing it: putting a second layer of speech on top of the first. – Hellion May 30 '17 at 18:32
  • @VersatileandAffordable It is very often the case, though, that the interrupter will be louder than the original speaker in a bid to have his interruption "win" and get the original speaker to stop talking. – Hellion May 30 '17 at 18:50
  • 1
    @VersatileandAffordable: you can think of it in the same way as "recording over" a previously recorded cassette will destroy the original recording and replace it with the new one. Likewise "talking over" someone means that you "destroy" what they try to say to you, which doesn't necessarily mean that you literally talk louder than them. The mere fact that you talk at all instead of listening already has that connotation. Although as Hellion pointed out, typically the interruptor will try to be louder than the interruptee. – Jörg W Mittag May 30 '17 at 22:23

Here, talked over isn't a phrasal verb. The word talk is the verb, and over is the preposition, meaning:

Higher in volume or pitch than : He shouted over the noise of the taxis

(That definition is found in Oxford Living Dictionary, definition 2.5.)

So the policeman is effectively saying, "Don't shout and drown out what I am saying; be quiet."

  • 3
    Just to make it sharper, basically you're sating that the meaning of "Don't talk over me" (in this context) is equal to "Do not talk higher than my voice level". – Scarcely Ponder May 30 '17 at 17:19
  • 3
    @VersatileandAffordable Yes. In your example it means to talk louder than someone else so that either you ignore them, or other people will hear you, not them. – Andrew May 30 '17 at 17:22
  • 5
    While this is correct, in context, "over" means interrupting, as Hellion said, more than just louder. – Stephen S May 30 '17 at 17:47
  • 1
    The dictionary definition here is exactly correct. If you were to whisper or mumble while someone was talking, you would not be talking over them. The policeman meant not to interrupt him, but that's not what the word means. – Wildcard May 31 '17 at 2:31
  • 1
    @VersatileandAffordable -- the phrase for "talk to me in a way that implies better than me" is "talk down to", but it wouldn't surprise me if someone, in a moment of surprise and outrage, said "talk over" instead. – Malvolio Jun 1 '17 at 5:13

"Talking over" someone simply means "continuing to talk even while the other person is talking" (or making some other noise).

It doesn't have anything to do with rank or social status or anything like that.

The situation can vary, but the term doesn't necessarily imply it happened in a certain order, two people both talking at the same time are talking over each other, no matter who was the first to start talking. It could be that one person interrupted the other, or perhaps two people started talking simultaneously, and neither stopped to allow the other to continue.

It also doesn't necessarily imply the person "talking over" is being rude. In fact, you would expect a teacher to "talk over" her rowdy students (or perhaps stop the lecture to correct them). In that case it is the students being rude.

It doesn't imply anything about loudness, either, although two people trying to talk over each other can definitely escalate in volume.

In your context, it simply means that the people in the video are talking to the police officer at the same time that the officer is attempting to give important instructions. The police officer is telling them that they need to shut up and listen.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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