superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Definition of superficial

1a(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
2a : concerned only with the obvious or apparent : shallow
b : seen on the surface : external
c : presenting only an appearance without substance or significance

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Other Words from superficial

superficially \ ˌsü-​pər-​ˈfi-​sh(ə-​)lē How to pronounce superficially (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for superficial

Synonyms

skin-deep, surface

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of superficial in a Sentence

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 Angelina Jolie goes blond and bubbly and hell hasn't even started freezing over. The brooding brunette donned a Monroe-esque platinum coif for her most recent film, "Life or Something Like It." She plays a superficial reporter who learns what's most important in life—which is, apparently, getting it on with Edward Burns. — Katerine Stroup et al., Newsweek, 23 July 2001 All this discussion of money may seem a vulgar recital of greed. But that is really just a superficial, simplistic criticism and usually a dishonest one. — Garth Clark, Ceramics Monthly, October 2001 a superficial analysis of the results They had a superficial knowledge of the topic. These superficial changes don't address the underlying problem. The storm only caused superficial damage to the building.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The scale, complexity, and staggering costs of the U.S. system present unique challenges that superficial moralizing and breathless international comparisons fail to answer. William A. Estes, National Review, "The American Medical Association Flirts with Socialized Medicine," 28 June 2019 Who is more coastal, city, materialist, superficial, etc. NBC News, "De Blasio message to Dems: Find 'courage' to tax the rich," 16 May 2018 That also means that the candidates will begin to deal more regularly with the unfortunate realities of active campaigning: Inane questions, horse race coverage, and an overwhelming focus on the superficial over the substantive. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Give Democrats a Chance to Get Serious in Their First Debates," 26 June 2019 Another objection with at least a superficial logic is that a program to cancel student debt will necessarily be regressive, benefiting the wealthy more than the working class. Michael Hiltzik, latimes.com, "Eliminating student debt would be a terrific economic stimulus program," 24 June 2019 But those observations were embedded in a sleek adventure — not mindless or superficial by any means, but more surface than depth, frothy and giddy. Paul Di Filippo, Dallas News, "In Neal Stephenson's 'Fall,' there is life after death," 18 June 2019 But those observations were embedded in a sleek adventure — not mindless or superficial by any means, but more surface than depth, frothy and giddy. Paul Di Filippo, Washington Post, "In Neal Stephenson’s ‘Fall,’ there is life after death," 16 June 2019 This week’s contest marked some superficial improvements. The Economist, "Kazakhstan’s choreographed election goes off-script," 15 June 2019 Another common strategy for creating a superficial sheen of scientific rigor involves having stem cell clinic patients fill out quality-of-life surveys and publishing the results in pay-to-publish predatory journals. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "YouTube Testimonials Lure Patients to Shady Stem Cell Clinics," 14 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'superficial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of superficial

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for superficial

Middle English, from Late Latin superficialis, from Latin superficies — see superficies

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Statistics for superficial

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for superficial

The first known use of superficial was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for superficial

superficial

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of superficial

: 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

superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Kids Definition of superficial

1 : of or relating to the surface or appearance only a superficial cut
2 : not thorough or complete He has only superficial knowledge of the subject.

Other Words from superficial

superficially adverb

superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfish-əl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Medical Definition of superficial

1 : of, relating to, or located near the surface superficial blood vessels
2 : lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface superficial wounds

Other Words from superficial

superficially \ -​ē How to pronounce superficially (audio) \ adverb

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