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Method Overloading vs. Method Overriding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 1, 2024
Method Overloading refers to defining multiple methods with the same name but different parameters. Method Overriding refers to redefining a parent class's method in a subclass with the same signature.

Key Differences

Method overloading occurs within the same class where two or more methods share the same name but differ in parameters (type, number, or both). Method overriding, however, happens in two classes - a subclass redefines a method of its superclass with the exact same name, return type, and parameters.
Overloading enhances readability and reusability by allowing different ways to use a method with different parameters. Overriding enables a subclass to provide a specific implementation of a method that is already provided by its parent class.
Method overloading is a compile-time polymorphism example, as the method to be called is determined at compile time. Method overriding is a form of runtime polymorphism, with the method call's binding occurring at runtime.
In overloading, return types may or may not be the same, but methods must differ in parameters. In overriding, the return type must be the same or a subtype in case of objects in the subclass method.
Method overloading is not concerned with inheritance, as it deals with methods in the same class. Method overriding is fundamentally based on inheritance, where a subclass modifies the behavior of its superclass method.

Comparison Chart


Multiple methods with the same name, different parameters
Redefining a superclass method in a subclass

Polymorphism Type

Compile-time polymorphism
Runtime polymorphism


Not involved
Required, as it involves superclass and subclass

Parameter Requirement

Must differ in type, number, or both
Must have the same parameter types


Enhances method usability with different parameters
Alters or extends the behavior of a superclass method

Method Overloading and Method Overriding Definitions

Method Overloading

Enhancing flexibility and readability in method usage with different parameter lists.
CalculateArea() overloaded to handle both circles and rectangles.

Method Overriding

Enabling dynamic polymorphism by allowing subclass methods to override superclass methods.
Draw() method in a Circle class overrides the draw() method from the Shape class.

Method Overloading

Creating multiple methods in the same class with the same name but different parameters.
Void add(int a, int b) and void add(double a, double b) demonstrate method overloading.

Method Overriding

Altering the behavior of an inherited method to suit the subclass.
CalculateSalary() is overridden in the Manager subclass from the Employee superclass.

Method Overloading

Implementing methods that perform similar tasks but with different inputs.
DrawShape(int radius) and drawShape(int length, int breadth) are overloaded methods.

Method Overriding

Providing a specific implementation for a method inherited from the parent class.
A Dog class overrides the makeSound() method of its Animal superclass.

Method Overloading

Offering varied ways to use a method based on different input parameters.
Overloading print() to accept strings, integers, or objects.

Method Overriding

Subclasses modify or extend superclass methods to provide tailored functionality.
Overriding connect() in a MySQLDatabase subclass from a generic Database superclass.

Method Overloading

Allowing a class to respond to method calls with different argument numbers or types.
SendMessage(String message) and sendMessage(String message, String attachment) show overloading.

Method Overriding

Subclass method redefining a parent class's method with the same signature.
Overriding void display() in a subclass that was defined in the superclass.


Can method overloading occur across classes?

No, it happens within the same class.

What is method overloading?

Defining multiple methods with the same name but different parameters in a class.

Is method overriding possible without inheritance?

No, it requires a subclass and a superclass.

Is overriding a runtime or compile-time feature?

Runtime, as the method to execute is determined during program execution.

Must the return type in overriding be the same?

Yes, or a subtype in the case of object return types.

Why use method overloading?

For flexibility and to handle different parameter types with a single method name.

What's the purpose of method overriding?

To provide a specific implementation of a superclass method in a subclass.

What does method overriding mean?

A subclass redefining a superclass method with the same name and parameters.

Can constructors be overloaded?

Yes, constructors can be overloaded.

How does overloading affect polymorphism?

It's a form of compile-time (static) polymorphism.

Are private methods subject to overloading?

Yes, private methods can be overloaded in the same class.

Can private methods be overridden?

No, private methods are not accessible in subclasses.

Do overloaded methods have to return the same type?

No, they can have different return types.

Is it possible to overload a method by changing only its return type?

No, overloading requires a change in parameters.

What is a key benefit of method overriding?

It allows modifying superclass behavior to fit subclass needs.

Does method overloading involve access modifiers?

No, it's independent of access modifiers.

Can access modifiers change in overriding?

Yes, but the visibility cannot be reduced.

How does overloading improve code readability?

By using the same method name for similar actions with different parameters.

Can constructors be overridden?

No, constructors cannot be overridden.

Can we override static methods?

No, static methods belong to the class, not instances, and cannot be overridden.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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