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adjective su·per·flu·ous \su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs\

Simple Definition of superfluous

  • : beyond what is needed : not necessary

Full Definition of superfluous

  1. 1a :  exceeding what is sufficient or necessary :  extrab :  not needed :  unnecessary

  2. 2 obsolete :  marked by wastefulness :  extravagant

su·per·flu·ous·ly adverb
su·per·flu·ous·ness noun

Examples of superfluous

  1. In the Imagist model, the writer is a sculptor. Technique consists of chipping away everything superfluous in order to reveal the essential form within. “It took you ninety-seven words to do it,” Pound is reported to have remarked to a young literary aspirant who had handed him a new poem. “I find it could have been managed in fifty-six.” —Louis Menand, New Yorker, 9 & 16 June 2008

  2. Oddly, despite the preponderance of superfluous words, the book has no glossary, which is a must for an introductory audience. —Dorothy Merritts, Eos, 3 Oct. 2000

  3. Twenty years ago, baby boomers were written about as if every one of them had as a life goal making enough money to accumulate the same superfluous material objects that everyone else had. —Calvin Trillin, Time, 6 Sept. 1999

  4. <cleared off all the superfluous stuff on his desk to make room for the new computer>

Origin of superfluous

Middle English, from Latin superfluus, literally, running over, from superfluere to overflow, from super- + fluere to flow — more at fluid

First Known Use: 15th century

SUPERFLUOUS Defined for Kids


adjective su·per·flu·ous \su̇-ˈpər-flə-wəs\

Definition of superfluous

  1. :  going beyond what is enough or necessary :  extra <Her story was filled with superfluous details.>

Word Root of superfluous

The Latin word fluere, meaning “to flow,” gives us the root flu. Words from the Latin fluere have something to do with flowing. A fluid is a substance that flows and is usually a liquid. When someone is fluent in a language the words flow out of her or him. Anything superfluous, or extra, has flowed forth beyond what is necessary.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up superfluous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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