su·​per·​fi·​cies | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-(ˌ)shēz How to pronounce superficies (audio) , -shē-ˌēz \
plural superficies

Definition of superficies

1 : a surface of a body or a region of space
2 : the external aspects or appearance of a thing

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Look below the surface of "superficies" and "surface" and you’ll find the very same Latin roots: "super-," meaning "on top," and "facies," meaning "face" or "aspect." English speakers plucked "superficies" right from Latin - it means "surface" in that language. Our word surface came to us by way of Middle French, where "sur-" (which comes from "super " and also means "on top") was combined with "face" (meaning "face"; from "facies"). We added "surface" to our crop of borrowed words around 1600, and the first known use of "superficies" is from 1530. One tricky thing to keep in mind about "superficies" is that it can be singular (even though it ends in an "s"!) or plural. There is no "superficie" or "superficy."

First Known Use of superficies

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for superficies

Latin, surface, from super- + facies face, aspect — more at face

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The first known use of superficies was in 1530

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Cite this Entry

“Superficies.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.

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