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 Anything that could possibly be considered superfluous or extraneous? Get rid of it. Louis Cheslaw, Condé Nast Traveler, "On Location: Where the Avett Brothers Record, Tour, and Recover," 18 Oct. 2019 In Tuesday’s program, by contrast, his conducting balanced clarity and fluidity, gracefully shaping the music without putting on a superfluous show for the audience. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Serenades suave and spirited from the Dallas Chamber Symphony," 12 Feb. 2020 The superfluous swag had Oral-B’s logo silkscreened on it. Lauren Goode, Wired, "Don't Brush Off Mouth Tech As a Passing Fad," 24 Jan. 2020 The company, which had the second-worst performing stock in the S&P 500 last year, has been closing underperforming stores amid working to reduce superfluous inventory for several years. Jonathan Roeder,, "Macy’s Gains on CEO Reassurance, Plan to Close 29 Stores," 8 Jan. 2020 The narrative bounces around in time from superfluous flashbacks to the present as Rani trains an all-female army and becomes a powerful symbol of the resistance. Julie Washington, cleveland, "19th-century female ruler deserves better biopic than ‘The Warrior Queen of Jhansi’: movie review," 13 Nov. 2019 No horrid ski village offering superfluous stuff to buy, Snowpine is a peaceful roadside establishment in modest gunmetal gray, harkening to the region’s 19th-century mining roots. Jordan Riefe, Orange County Register, "All snow, all the time at Utah’s new ski paradise for diehards," 31 Oct. 2019 The guest acts, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny, were superfluous, serving to emphasize the talents of the headliners. David Bauder,, "Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s fiery song, dance at Super Bowl halftime show," 2 Feb. 2020 His curiosity about minimalism, then, reads like a response to a time when everyone is bombarded with digital information, superfluous gadgets, and online advertising designed to compel instantaneous purchases. Arielle Pardes, Wired, "Live Your Best Life—On and Off Your Phone—in 2020," 6 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for superfluous

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

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Last Updated

30 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Superfluous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for superfluous


How to pronounce superfluous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of superfluous

formal : beyond what is needed : not necessary


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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