superfluous

play
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

superfluously

adverb

superfluousness

noun

superfluous was our Word of the Day on 02/17/2015. Hear the podcast!

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

Recent Examples of superfluous from the Web

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.

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


SUPERFLUOUS Defined for English Language Learners

superfluous

play
adjective

Definition of superfluous for English Language Learners

  • : beyond what is needed : not necessary


SUPERFLUOUS Defined for Kids

superfluous

play
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).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

done merely as a duty

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!