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

From Facebook’s personal data overreaches to thousands of e-commerce sites that trick people into superfluous purchases to cities implementing facial-recognition systems without consent, the tech industry continues to stress-test trust. Pamela Pavliscak, Quartz, "Forget AI ethics—treat technology like a new relationship instead," 2 Aug. 2019 Luckily for phytoplankton in coastal areas, humans provide superfluous nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizer form. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Dead zones, explained," 31 July 2019 There’s a splendid, if superfluous, battle between Cliff and a haughty Bruce Lee (Mike Moh). Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Quentin Tarantino Tweaks History in “Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood”," 26 July 2019 Some of these services are superfluous or really only benefit the most frequent travelers. Louise Matsakis, WIRED, "How to Save Money and Skip Lines at the Airport," 5 July 2019 And some are superfluous devices that prey upon homeowners’ biggest fears. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "Use Prime Day to turn your dumb home into a smart one," 15 July 2019 No added superfluous subplots, no new songs to learn. Joey Morona, cleveland.com, "Disney’s live-action ’The Lion King’ is a visual wonder, but also kind of boring," 11 July 2019 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

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

18 Aug 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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