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

Definition of superfluous

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

  2. 2 obsolete :  marked by wastefulness :  extravagant





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Examples of superfluous in a sentence

  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

Did You Know?

If you think that superfluous must mean "extra 'fluous,'" along the pattern of such words as superabsorbent and superabundant, you're not far off. Superfluous comes from the Latin adjective superfluus, meaning literally "running over" or "overflowing." Superfluus, in turn, derives from the combination of the prefix super- (meaning "over" or "more") and fluere, "to flow." (Fluere also gave us fluid, fluent, and influence, among others.) Since its first appearance in English in the 15th century, superfluous has referred to an "overflowing" of some supply, as of time or words, which hearkens back to its Latin origins.

Origin and Etymology 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 English Language Learners


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

Definition of superfluous for English Language Learners

  • : beyond what is needed : not necessary

SUPERFLUOUS Defined for Kids


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

Definition of superfluous for Students

  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).


to cast off or become cast off

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