I have heard several people using the word "oversmart" or "over smart" to indicate that person is trying to act extra smartly. Is this a correct word? Does it make any sense?
"Oversmart" is not a word that I have come across before (appreciating that language changes all the time/over time, and that I am not the Lord and Arbiter of All English).
It feels like a business buzzword—possibly a contraction of "overly smart"—for which I presume the intention is to convey one of two opinions, in a mildly disparaging manner:
- either that the person has devised a complex solution to a problem, where a simpler solution is apparent;
- or that the person thinks they are being cleverer than they actually are; for instance, they may be attempting to win an argument with a person by attempting to confuse them, but have underestimated their target's ability to understand (or recognise the attempt).
The first option can potentially be softened to overengineered (when describing the solution) or overthinking (when describing the process of coming up with the solution). This is possibly where the over- prefix has come from. For example:
- "You are overthinking the problem." (especially in cases of decision paralysis)
- "He is overthinking it."
- "You have overengineered the solution."
- "You are overengineering the solution."
- "She has overengineered the solution."
- "The solution is overengineered."
The second might simply be better inferred with too clever, e.g. :
- "You are too clever by half" (or sometimes "too clever by far")
- "She is too clever by half"
- "You are too clever for your own good" (note a possible veiled threat of escalation/retaliation here)
- "He is too clever for his own good"
However, if this is a business buzzword, and it is being used in your line of business, you may just be better off using that term amongst your peers, until it falls out of favour.