su·​per·​flu·​ous | \ su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs How to pronounce superfluous (audio) \

Definition of superfluous

1a : exceeding what is sufficient or necessary : extra
b : not needed : unnecessary
2 obsolete : marked by wastefulness : extravagant

Other Words from superfluous

superfluously adverb
superfluousness noun

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.

Examples of superfluous in a Sentence

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 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 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 cleared off all the superfluous stuff on his desk to make room for the new computer
Recent Examples on the Web The result is some wordiness — encounters rendered with admirable sincerity but that feel superfluous, or overlong, as in the protracted scene that begins Act 2 between Brandon and his sister, Bronkovic’s Brittany. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 Then came the 2020 pandemic, which made oversized aircraft superfluous for travel. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, 29 June 2022 It’s the most logical time to cull all the superfluous stuff that has accumulated over time. Vaidya Aiyer, Forbes, 29 June 2022 Louis’ bland blonde fiancé Penelope (McKenzie Kurtz, very good) gets a bit of a feminist facelift, but the character’s continual engagement in the plot feels superfluous. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 7 June 2022 Set in the near-future, the movie stars longtime Cronenberg collaborator Viggo Mortensen as a performance artist who grows superfluous internal organs which his partner, played by Léa Seydoux, surgically removes for the enjoyment of audiences. Clark Collis,, 3 June 2022 Bluetooth may seem like an obvious upgrade, but of course the iPod community is working on some utterly superfluous mods as well. Brendan Nystedt, Wired, 17 Mar. 2022 Yet those entering the United States illegally need not follow such apparently superfluous COVID-19 rules. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 1 Apr. 2021 The adjacent control room also has a break room and an outdoor patio which Honda’s wind tunnel lead says is anything but superfluous. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, 23 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of superfluous

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

History and Etymology for superfluous

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

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

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Superfluous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for superfluous


su·​per·​flu·​ous | \ su̇-ˈpər-flə-wəs How to pronounce superfluous (audio) \

Kids Definition of superfluous

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

More from Merriam-Webster on superfluous

Nglish: Translation of superfluous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of superfluous for Arabic Speakers


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