Idiomatic Vocabulary 13: to go overboard

The Phrase

 To go overboard

Its Definition

A verb phrase meaning to do something good, but do it too much or excessively so that it becomes bad.


This is useful for IELTS speaking because this situation does happen in life. People may ‘go overboard’ in politeness, actions, and public behavior.

This phrase passes our test for use in written language: it is short [Rule 2], and it can be applied widely to many people [Rule 3].


Example Sentences

In IELTS Speaking

  • “I’m not convinced cosmetic surgery is good. Many people go overboard, and begin looking like freaks.”
  • “Study is important, but I see three-year-old babies learning Japanese. Now, that’s just going overboard.”
  • “Some memorisation is possible when writing in IELTS, but people just go overboard, and the whole essay becomes absolutely ridiculous.”

In IELTS Writing

  • Given the emphasis now placed on good looks in this celebrity-driven society, the current trend towards cosmetic surgery is understandable, but too many ‘go overboard’, Michael Jackson being a classic example.
  • Money is undeniably important, but those who sacrifice friends, family, and good health in the process of acquiring it, are obviously ‘going overboard’.