‘Hover Over’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Shanea Patterson, updated on March 17, 2023

Have you heard someone say ‘hover over,’ and now you’re wondering what they meant by that? Below, we’ll take a look at the definition and origin of the phrase, and you’ll see some examples of how to use the phrase correctly in a sentence.

In short:

  • ‘Hover over’ means to remain suspended over something or someone.

Essentially, ‘hover over’ means to float above someone or something, just lingering in place.

What Does ‘Hover Over’ Mean?

The phrase ‘hover over’ is an American expression used to describe the action of lingering above someone or something. It’s generally used to explain things like helicopters, which can easily hover over something or someone (remain floating above something without moving).

The expression has been used to describe anything that hovers over anything else.

A plane hovers over the runway before it lands.

However, ‘hover over’ could also mean standing somewhere in a position where you tower over them.

For example:

  • If someone is sitting down in a chair and you walk up to them and stand there for a while, you’re hovering over them. You might be reading what they’re reading or writing or just waiting for them to finish.

Where Does ‘Hover Over’ Come From?

The verb ‘hover’ comes from the Middle English word ‘hoveren,’ which means to float in the air, hover, or stay.

That word is derived from ‘hoven,’ which has the same meaning.

It originally referred to birds that remained suspended in the air. It meant to float or rise to the surface.

The words are closely associated with the word ‘hovercraft,’ which is a flying spacecraft that can hover.

You remember the hovercraft from the Jetsons that we all thought we’d be flying around in by now.

The word ‘hover’ can also refer to a computer cursor hovering over an object onscreen without clicking on anything. You might hover your mouse over something before deciding to click on it while you're making up your mind.

Examples of ‘Hover Over’ in Sentences

How would you use ‘hover over’ in a sentence?

Let’s look at some examples:

  • My auntie says I always hover over my daughter when she’s sleeping. I know I do that, but it’s because I have an irrational fear that she’ll stop breathing one day.
  • You’re not going to hover over me all day, Jerry. I need to be able to work free of distractions, and you standing behind me for most of the day doesn’t allow me to be as productive as I could be.
  • Everyone calls my mom a helicopter mom because she’s always ‘hovering’ over me, in a sense. She won’t let me go anywhere or do anything without knowing every detail about where I’m going, who I’m going with when I’ll be back, and a ton of other information. It’s exhausting sometimes.
  • We don’t always have to hover over our children. We need to let them explore and figure out their own path in this lifetime. A lot of us try to mold our kids into mini versions of ourselves.
  • That helicopter has been hovering over that house for a while now. Should someone report it as a suspicious activity? Or do you think that’s the police?
  • While we were moving houses, my mom thought she had to hover over every single thing I did. I know how to pack my own boxes and get them onto the moving truck. I’m not a baby, for god sake.
  • I heard you were leaving for college this afternoon. I’m just gonna hover over you until you leave. I’m going to miss you so much, Claire. You’ve been my best friend for four years.
  • I used to hover over my professor until he was done writing, not wanting to interrupt him. He was always trying to finish writing quickly, so I didn’t have to wait too long. He was such a nice guy.

Other Ways to Say ‘Hover Over’

What other words and phrases convey the same meaning as ‘hover over’?

Here are a few examples:

  • Overhang
  • Hang (over)
  • Impend (over)
  • Threaten
  • Menace
  • Linger
  • Hang about
  • Wait nearby
  • Waver
  • Flutter
  • Flicker
  • Drift
  • Float over
  • Sail
  • Glide
  • Bob
  • Ride

Final Advice on ‘Hover Over’

To recap, we learned that:

  • ‘Hover over’ is a common English phrase that means to remain suspended over something or someone.

Essentially, ‘hover over’ means to float above someone or something, just lingering in place.

If you ever get stuck or forget something, you can always come back here to review what you learned. We’ve got a whole library of content on Idioms. Go check it out and get familiar with the most common English idioms and expressions you might see going forward.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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