Overhead is that part of an organization's intake or expenditure which goes to simply maintaining the organization, and not to profit, suppliers, charities, etc. Example: If the Red Cross takes in $50 million in donations and distributes $20 million to various charities, then it has $30 million in overhead. This is not an outrageous percentage for a non-profit, by the way. Another example: A manufacturing business that makes $100 per day and spends $45 on raw materials, tooling, maintenance, manufacturing labor etc. and keeps $25 in profit probably has $30 of daily overhead. This would go to places like the boss's secretary's salary, coffee for the break room, toilet paper for the john, etc. etc.

As an employee of a major corporation's IS division, overhead is one of my favorite words.

When I'm doing "overhead," quite simply, it means that I'm not writing code--and I'm still getting paid.  My first week or two on the job, all the paperwork I have to fill out and introductory meetings and seminars get logged under overhead.  All the compliance training HR makes me do is also overhead.

But wait, there's more!  When I have to call one of our tech support lines to fix one of my Unix accounts or get something else fixed, that's overhead.  When the CD-ROM drive on my work computer blows up, the entire afternoon I spend trying to fix it and find a new one is overhead.  When I have to go down the hall to use another office's copy machine because we don't have one, that's overhead.

I LOVE overhead.

O`ver*head" (?), adv.

Aloft; above; in or attached to the ceiling or roof; in the story or upon the floor above; in the zenith.

While overhead the moon Sits arbitress. Milton.

Also used adjectively; as, an overhead crane, gear, etc.

Overhead engine, a vertical steam engine in which the cylinder stands above the crank. -- Overhead work, a general term in manufactories for countershafting and gearing, when overhead.


© Webster 1913.

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