superfluous

adjective
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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Understanding these distinctions may feel superfluous at first, but choosing the wrong option can lead to an undesired look (with a high price tag). Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Drapes or Curtains? Why Choosing the Right Window Treatment Matters," 27 Mar. 2019 All that is inflamed further by a social-media environment in which fury is the norm and facts are elusive, if not superfluous. Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, "The New Kind of Fury Unleashed by the Kavanaugh Fight," 27 Sep. 2018 From then on, everything that happens is so self-evident that further synopsis is superfluous. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "‘Choir Boy’ Review: A Familiar Sermon," 17 Jan. 2019 In the abstract, haptic feedback is a relatively superfluous feature. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Google Is Bringing Android's Best Feature to the iPhone," 14 Feb. 2019 The superfluous earnings of these taxpayers aren’t really so valued by themselves or by society. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "High Tax Rates Aren’t Optimal," 8 Jan. 2019 The surface of the table was taken up with all sorts of paraphernalia superfluous, not to say impedimental, to ratiocination. Hermione Hoby, New York Times, "Mining the Madness of Pure Logic in Stories That Dazzle and Discomfit," 1 June 2018 In that context, developing a second version of Office that's also for desktop Windows is superfluous. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Microsoft suspends development of touch-friendly Office apps for Windows," 28 Sep. 2018 The steady improvement in lithium-ion batteries’ energy and power-density over cost will render the latest plug-in hybrids comically superfluous in a matter of years. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Think Electric Vehicles Are Great Now? Just Wait...," 26 Dec. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for superfluous

Last Updated

26 May 2019

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Time Traveler for superfluous

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

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More Definitions for superfluous

superfluous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of superfluous

formal : beyond what is needed : not necessary

superfluous

adjective
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.

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