When I look up on dictionaries, the common definition is that "to make change and improve something" for these words but what is the difference between the usage of these terms?

Only difference I noticed from definitions is that if there is a problem and if want to imply to fix it we can use "overhaul", Is that really correct? but in other situations are they interchangeable? How are these terms different for native speakers?

They ​repaired and ​maintained ​aircraft and overhauled ​their ​engines.

The ​county took ​steps to enhance ​water ​quality / in security / transportation system.

This country’s ​health ​care ​system ​needs revamping.

The software revamp/overhaul/enhance itself regularly for disabled people. (which one sounds better?)

One of the most important policies of the company is that, they strive to revamp / enhance /overhaul its business system continuously.( which one sounds better?)

  • I don't think the definitions are common, other than in a general sense. You should add the definitions (with source or links) to your question rather than expect someone else to do so. Also dictionaries don't always agree,
    – user3169
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 20:13
  • The words are definitely very similar in how I've always seen them used, but I would suggest that they carry different weight in terms of meaning (sorry I couldn't think of the word there). Basically, what I mean is, "enhance" can be just a minor tweak or it could be a big change, whereas "revamp" and especially "overhaul" likely imply a much larger change. For instance, If I have a logo on a website and I change the color, that might be an enhancement. If I change the font size and spacing, I would be revamping it. If I were to make major changes, it would be getting an overhaul. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 20:13

2 Answers 2


The difference is in the degree of change applied to the object.

Enhancing leaves the main structure and functionality the same, most features intact, and generally speaking improves the object by applying small modifications.

Revamping often changes the basis, some fundamentals, some key features. Structure can undergo some changes, but the functionality generally is kept as is although we can see re-prioritizing of some elements.

Overhauling involves disassembling into constituent parts, examining each of them carefully for flaws, replacing with equivalent new parts (subsystems), in order to bring the system's performance closer to the original specification/idea.

Those words are not interchangeable. You could overhaul an engine of an aircraft to bring the engine back to its "factory new" performance. You could enhance an engine of an aircraft by replacing some heavier parts with lighter ones, for instance. You wouldn't revamp an engine. The latter most often used to describe a process for making fixes in a social/business system, like government, company management, etc. You could, however, revamp a design of an engine, which often includes technological part (manufacturing).


'Revamp' is commonly used in interior design. To me, it connotes something structurally sound that just needs to be brought up to date.

I don't agree with 'enhance' for an engine. It's usually used for a feature of a whole thing.

That brown eyeshadow really enhances your eyes. (part of one's beauty) Engine performance is enhanced with better petrol.(part of the car's performance).

'Overhaul is bigger, more structural, and more fundamental.

The Samsung phone needed to be completely overhauled, because of fires.

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