adjective su·per·fi·cial \ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl\

: concerned only with what is obvious or apparent : not thorough or complete

: affecting only the outer part or surface of something : not deep or serious

: lying close to the surface

Full Definition of SUPERFICIAL

a (1) :  of, relating to, or located near a surface (2) :  lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface <superficial wounds>
b British of a unit of measure :  square <superficial foot>
a :  concerned only with the obvious or apparent :  shallow
b :  seen on the surface :  external
c :  presenting only an appearance without substance or significance
su·per·fi·cial·ly \-ˈfi-sh(ə-)lē\ adverb


  1. a superficial analysis of the results
  2. They had a superficial knowledge of the topic.
  3. These superficial changes don't address the underlying problem.
  4. The storm only caused superficial damage to the building.
  5. Wonderbra model Eva Herzigova sued a Canadian underwear company that refused to pay her $30,000 fee because she showed up for the photo shoot with a short haircut that company didn't like. You know, it's shameful in this day and age how superficial and sexist some of these ad execs are. —Lewis Grossberger, Mediaweek, 14 Apr. 2003


Middle English, from Late Latin superficialis, from Latin superficies (see superficies)
First Known Use: 15th century


Synonym Discussion of SUPERFICIAL

superficial, shallow, cursory mean lacking in depth or solidity. superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features <a superficial analysis of the problem>. shallow is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character <a light, shallow, and frivolous review>. cursory suggests a lack of thoroughness or a neglect of details <gave the letter only a cursory reading>.
SUPERFICIALLY Defined for Kids


adjective su·per·fi·cial \ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl\

Definition of SUPERFICIAL for Kids

:  of or relating to the surface or appearance only <a superficial cut>
:  not thorough or complete <He has only superficial knowledge of the subject.>
su·per·fi·cial·ly adverb
Medical Dictionary


adjective su·per·fi·cial \ˌsü-pər-ˈfish-əl\

Medical Definition of SUPERFICIAL

:  of, relating to, or located near the surface <superficial blood vessels>
:  lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface <superficial wounds>
su·per·fi·cial·ly \-ē\ adverb


Next Word in the Dictionary: superficial blastulaPrevious Word in the Dictionary: superficeAll Words Near: superficial
July 01, 2015
precarious Hear it
not certain, secure, or steady
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