su·​per·​nu·​mer·​ary | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈnü-mə-ˌrer-ē How to pronounce supernumerary (audio) , -ˈnyü-, -mə-rē; -ˈn(y)üm-rē\

Definition of supernumerary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : exceeding the usual, stated, or prescribed number a supernumerary tooth
b : not enumerated among the regular components of a group and especially of a military organization
2 : exceeding what is necessary, required, or desired
3 : more numerous


plural supernumeraries

Definition of supernumerary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a supernumerary person or thing
2 : an actor employed to play a walk-on

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Synonyms for supernumerary

Synonyms: Adjective

excess, extra, redundant, spare, supererogatory, superfluous, surplus

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Did You Know?

Supernumerary starts off with the Latin prefix super-, "above". You may have heard of someone being born with supernumerary teeth, supernumerary fingers, or supernumerary toes. A supernumerary rainbow may show up as a faint line—red, green, or purple—just touching the main colored arc. Supernumerary is also a noun: A supernumerary is usually someone in a crowd scene onstage, otherwise known as an "extra" or a "spear-carrier".

Examples of supernumerary in a Sentence


a third, supernumerary witness to the signing of the will

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Even the third tailpipe sticking out the back is unsettling, the sport-compact equivalent of a supernumerary nipple. WSJ, "2018 Honda Civic Type R: A Supercar for the Suburbs," 13 Dec. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Aside from work and travel, Mrs. Gradet was an extra — or supernumerary — in several productions of the Baltimore Opera, along with her husband and children. Christina Tkacik,, "Barbara Levy Gradet, former director of Baltimore County’s Department of Social Services, dies," 20 May 2018 Broken into six-hour installments spaced out over two weeks, the hallucinatory concert extravaganza is being custom tailored, with local musicians, guest artists and glittery supernumeraries brought in for the occasion. Charles Mcnulty,, "Taylor Mac on gay history, 'Hamilton' and his epic 24-hour extravaganza at the Ace," 14 Mar. 2018 History will be merciless to them, but how much fun to watch them reduced to thunderstruck supernumeraries in real time. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Frank Rich: Donald Trump’s ‘Independence’ Is a Complete Farce," 13 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'supernumerary.' 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 supernumerary


1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1639, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for supernumerary


Late Latin supernumerarius, from Latin super- + numerus number

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Time Traveler for supernumerary

The first known use of supernumerary was in 1605

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More Definitions for supernumerary


su·​per·​nu·​mer·​ary | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈn(y)ü-mə-ˌrer-ē, -ˈn(y)üm-(ə-)rē How to pronounce supernumerary (audio) \

Medical Definition of supernumerary

: exceeding the usual or normal number supernumerary teeth a supernumerary rib

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Comments on supernumerary

What made you want to look up supernumerary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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