Total vs. Overall: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on September 21, 2023
"Total" refers to the complete amount or sum of items, while "Overall" pertains to the general or comprehensive nature of something.

Key Differences

Total specifically refers to the complete sum or amount of a collection of things, figures, or elements. In contrast, Overall indicates a broad, general sense, encompassing everything in consideration.
In numerical contexts, Total would be the sum of all figures or quantities. On the other hand, Overall might suggest the general trend or result without delving into specifics.
An individual might use Total to refer to the sum of expenses in a month. Simultaneously, they might use Overall to describe the general financial health or situation during that month.
One can think of Total as a precise end result of addition, especially in quantitative settings. Conversely, Overall can offer a holistic perspective or general impression of a situation, event, or set of data.
While both words imply comprehensiveness, Total often emphasizes completeness or entirety in count or measure, whereas Overall leans more towards a summary or general state of things.

Comparison Chart

Definition

Complete amount or sum
General or comprehensive nature

Part of Speech

Noun (can also be a verb/adjective)

Usage Context

Quantitative settings

Grammatical Function

Describes completeness in count/measure
Describes a general state/summary

Associated Ideas

Sum, entirety
Holistic, all-encompassing

Total and Overall Definitions

Total

The complete amount or sum.
The Total cost of the project was \$10,000.

Overall

Covering or affecting everything.
They considered the Overall benefits and drawbacks.

Total

Absolute or complete.
It was a Total disaster.

Overall

Encompassing all parts or aspects.
The Overall impact of the policy was significant.

Total

To calculate the full amount.
We need to Total the expenses for the month.

Overall

In a comprehensive sense.
The movie was good Overall.

Total

Entire or comprehensive.
They faced Total defeat.

Overall

From one end to the other
The overall length of the house.

Total

The result of adding numbers.
The Total of 5 and 7 is 12.

Overall

Including everything; comprehensive
The overall costs of medical care.

Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.

Overall

Regarded as a whole; general
My overall impression was favorable.

Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety
The storm damaged the total of the housing units.

Overall

On the whole; generally
Enjoyed the performance overall.

Total

Of, relating to, or constituting the whole amount; entire
The total population of the city.

Overall

Chiefly British A loose-fitting protective outer garment; a smock.

Total

Complete; utter; absolute
Total concentration.
A total effort.
A total fool.

Overall

Overalls Loose-fitting pants, usually of strong fabric, with a bib front and shoulder straps, often worn over regular clothing as protection from dirt.

Total

To determine the total of; add up
They totaled the applications at 600.

Overall

All-encompassing, all around.

Total

To equal a total of; amount to
The week's receipts totaled more than \$90,000.

Overall

Generally; with everything considered.

Total

To wreck completely; demolish
The driver survived the crash but totaled the car.

Overall

(British) A garment worn over other clothing to protect it; a coverall or boiler suit. A garment, for manual labor or for casual wear, often made of a single piece of fabric, with long legs and a bib upper, supported from the shoulders with straps, and having several large pockets and loops for carrying tools.

Total

To add up; amount
It totals to \$25.

Overall

A garment, worn for manual labor, with an integral covering extending to the chest, supported by straps.

Total

An amount obtained by the addition of smaller amounts.
A total of £145 was raised by the bring-and-buy stall.

Everywhere.

Total

Sum.
The total of 4, 5 and 6 is 15.

Overall

Work clothing consisting of denim trousers (usually with a bib and shoulder straps)

Total

Entire; relating to the whole of something.
The total book is rubbish from start to finish.
The total number of votes cast is 3,270.

Overall

A loose protective coverall or smock worn over ordinary clothing for dirty work

Total

(used as an intensifier) Complete; absolute.
He is a total failure.

Overall

Involving only main features;
The overall pattern of his life

Total

(mathematics) (of a function) Defined on all possible inputs.
The Ackermann function is one of the simplest and earliest examples of a total computable function that is not primitive recursive.

Overall

Including everything;
The overall cost
The total amount owed

Total

(transitive) To add up; to calculate the sum of.
When we totalled the takings, we always got a different figure.

Overall

Pertaining to the whole extent or scope.
Her Overall performance was excellent.

Total

To equal a total of; to amount to.
That totals seven times so far.

Overall

General or in total.
Overall, the feedback was positive.

Total

To demolish; to wreck completely. (from total loss)
Honey, I’m OK, but I’ve totaled the car.

Total

(intransitive) To amount to; to add up to.
It totals nearly a pound.

Total

Whole; not divided; entire; full; complete; absolute; as, a total departure from the evidence; a total loss.

Total

The whole; the whole sum or amount; as, these sums added make the grand total of five millions.

Total

To bring to a total; also, to reach as a total; to amount to.

Total

To determine the total of (a set of numbers); to add; - often used with up; as, to total up the bill.

Total

To damage beyond repair; - used especially of vehicles damaged in an accident; as, he skid on an ice patch and totaled his Mercedes against a tree. From total loss.

The whole amount

Total

A quantity obtained by addition

Total

Add up in number or quantity;
The bills amounted to \$2,000
The bill came to \$2,000

Total

Determine the sum of;
Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town

Total

Constituting the full quantity or extent; complete;
An entire town devastated by an earthquake
Gave full attention
A total failure

Total

Including everything;
The overall cost
The total amount owed

Total

Without conditions or limitations;
A total ban

Total

Complete in extent or degree and in every particular;
A full game
A total eclipse
A total disaster

FAQs

Is "Total" more specific than "Overall"?

Generally, yes. "Total" often provides a specific sum or amount.

Does "Overall" provide a detailed view?

Not typically; "Overall" suggests a general or broad perspective.

Can "Total" be used as a verb?

Yes, like in "totaling the expenses."

Does "Overall" mean the same as "in general"?

Yes, in many contexts, they can be synonymous.

When might one use "Overall" in a sentence?

When offering a summary or general impression of a situation or set of data.

Is "Total" always about numbers?

Mostly, but it can also indicate completeness in non-quantitative contexts.

Can "Overall" describe a general trend?

Yes, it often indicates a general direction or trend without specific details.

Is the "total amount" redundant?

It can be, as "total" already suggests a complete amount.

Can "Total" be an absolute term?

Yes, like in "total disaster," it indicates absolute or complete nature.

How does "Overall" differ from "on the whole"?

They're similar, but "Overall" is often more concise. Both suggest a general perspective.

Can "Total" suggest finality?

Yes, as it indicates the end result or complete sum.

Is "Overall" about averages?

Not necessarily. While it provides a broad view, it doesn't always suggest an average.

Why do receipts have a "total" at the bottom?

It provides the complete sum of all listed costs.

How do "Overall" and "entirely" differ?

"Overall" suggests a broad summary, while "entirely" indicates completeness or fullness.

Do "Overall" and "total" overlap in meaning?

They can in some contexts, but they often have distinct nuances.