adjective su·per·flu·ous \ su̇-ˈpər-flü-əs \
|Updated on: 9 Jun 2018

Definition of superfluous

1 a : exceeding what is sufficient or necessary : extra
b : not needed : unnecessary
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 MenandNew Yorker9 & 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 MerrittsEos3 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 TrillinTime6 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


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

: 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.

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widely and unfavorably known

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