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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Audi has long excelled at interior design, avoiding superfluous styling. Nargess Banks, Forbes, 18 June 2021 Of note, brain imaging studies confirm that superfluous drinking is unpleasant and requires greater muscular effort than drinking when thirsty. Tamara Hew-butler, CNN, 5 May 2021 While most Americans have come to accept and embrace mask-wearing indoors, outdoor mask-wearing has generally been considered superfluous, especially in situations where social distancing is possible. Tina Mortimer, Star Tribune, 29 Apr. 2021 Such movement may be more than superfluous hand flapping. Matthew Hutson, Scientific American, 13 Apr. 2021 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have further diminished the mystique of many stars, some of whom give fans a steady diet of mundane information on their lives, making the portal that awards shows provided superfluous. Stephen Battaglio Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 13 Apr. 2021 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About superfluous

Time Traveler for superfluous

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About superfluous

Statistics for superfluous

Last Updated

23 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Superfluous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on superfluous

Nglish: Translation of superfluous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of superfluous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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