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 Mullens would seem to be superfluous in San Francico once the 49ers drafted North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance immediately after the Jets selected Wilson. J.p. Pelzman, Forbes, 12 May 2021 Do your best to eliminate superfluous or redundant documents, and try to lower the demands on your personnel to understand, correct and work around basic documentation. Salvador Ordorica, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 For the first time in decades, the natural world took priority over superfluous distractions. Jeff Jenkins, Travel + Leisure, 1 Apr. 2021 Strip away the superfluous M Sport add-ons ($7100 combined) and the $1700 Driver Assistance Professional package and the price becomes more palatable. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 23 Mar. 2021 Of course, Paltrow is careful to avoid stating that any of these expensive, superfluous products are a cure for long-lasting COVID symptoms. Elizabeth Gulino,, 18 Feb. 2021 The report showed disturbing numbers, provided little actual information on WeWork’s business strategy, and was styled, at Rebekah’s direction, with superfluous glossy photos and inspirational quotes. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, 24 Nov. 2020 Republicans said that the funding already allocated through last year’s relief bills was sufficient, and that sending more money to state and local governments was superfluous. Alana Abramson, Time, 7 Mar. 2021 In theory, the Madrid Protocol prohibits any superfluous structures from remaining on the continent and requires that they be cleaned up by whoever used or left them. Leah Feiger, The Atlantic, 3 Mar. 2021

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

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

30 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Superfluous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for superfluous



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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