sur·​face | \ ˈsər-fəs How to pronounce surface (audio) \

Definition of surface

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the exterior or upper boundary of an object or body on the surface of the water the earth's surface
2 : a plane or curved two-dimensional locus of points (such as the boundary of a three-dimensional region) plane surface surface of a sphere
3a : the external or superficial aspect of something trouble lurks below the surface
b : an external part or layer sanded the rough surfaces
on the surface
: to all outward appearances



Definition of surface (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : of, located on, or designed for use at the surface of something
b : situated, transported, or employed on the surface of the earth surface mail surface vehicles
2 : appearing to be such on the surface only : superficial surface friendships


surfaced; surfacing

Definition of surface (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to give a surface to: such as
a : to plane or make smooth
b : to apply the surface layer to surface a highway
2 : to bring to the surface surface a sunken ship

intransitive verb

1 : to work on or at the surface
2 : to come to the surface
3 : to come into public view : show up letters that have recently surfaced

Other Words from surface


surfacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for surface

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of surface in a Sentence

Noun The painting's surface is covered with fine cracks. The bowl has a shiny surface. The surface of wood was rough. Be careful of icy surfaces on the roads. Adjective Despite the surface differences between the two candidates, they are very similar in most ways. a surface stain on the wood that can easily be removed with a mild detergent Verb The whale surfaced and then dove back down. The information surfaced many years later. After several years, the actress surfaced in a comedy. The road needs to be surfaced again. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In winter months, Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada, is known for a peculiar marvel that lies beneath the surface of its clear blue frozen water. Kathleen Rellihan, Outside Online, 14 May 2022 The car was located near Roger’s Landing Boat Ramp, in the Newberg area, submerged about 40 feet beneath the river’s surface. oregonlive, 14 May 2022 Sinkholes are created when water erodes the bedrock beneath the surface. Manasee Wagh, Popular Mechanics, 13 May 2022 As a result, Google Maps today is brimming with a wide array of power-user features lurking right beneath the surface. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 4 May 2022 For Ukrainians and Poles, emotions are right beneath the surface. Lydia Tomkiw, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 May 2022 Then examine what’s beneath the surface by pushing an arm from side to side. Washington Post, 3 May 2022 While regulators deemed the former dry cleaner site to be unfit for residential development, due to lingering chemicals beneath the surface, the state allowed developers to build housing on the neighboring Avenue 34 site. Jonah Valdezstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 30 Apr. 2022 Tensions had been brewing beneath the surface for years. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The upright device is designed with a multi-surface brush roll that deep cleans carpets and gently rolls over hard floors without damaging the wood, picking up everything from crumbs to dust. Amy Schulman,, 10 Apr. 2022 This shoe is pegged to be a rugged neutral runner that also includes gel cushioning and multi-surface traction — for runners who change their trails frequently. Ni'kesia Pannell, Woman's Day, 6 May 2022 The beloved device is designed with a three-stage cleaning system, where two multi-surface brushes work in tandem to lift and grab dirt and debris from both carpets and hard floors. Amy Schulman,, 4 Mar. 2022 James McCawley, for example, argued that major simplifications result from having verbs in the initial position in the pre-surface layers. Geoffrey K. Pullum, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 Weighing just five pounds, the cordless vacuum mop hybrid has a 12-ounce fill tank, features LED headlights, and comes with two disposable pads and a multi-surface hard floor cleaner. Christina Butan,, 13 Nov. 2021 But what sets it apart is its three-stage cleaning system and dual multi-surface brushes, which lift dirt from both carpet and hard floors, and its edge-sweeping brush that captures everything lingering around the edges and hiding in corners. Sanah Faroke,, 25 Nov. 2021 The kit includes a foaming hand soap, multi-surface cleaner, bathroom cleaner, as well as a glass and mirror cleaner. Noelle Ike, CNN Underscored, 8 Apr. 2021 This super smart appliance features a multi-surface brush, dual-spinning side brushes, and powerful suction that picks up dirt, debris, and pet dander from both carpets and floor. Amy Schulman,, 29 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Businesses that competently steer through the unknown will surface with more prolific team members, more devoted clientele and a stronger business bottom line. Somdutta Singh, Forbes, 5 May 2022 How much resentment will surface toward those who left? New York Times, 10 Apr. 2022 Plex universal search will surface results on various platforms without requiring the user to link to those streaming services first. Chris Smith, BGR, 6 Apr. 2022 Progress reports will surface on El Sur’s Facebook page ( and Instagram ( Eric E. Harrison, Arkansas Online, 5 Apr. 2022 The fruits of Def Leppard’s latest labors will surface as Diamond Star Halos, the quintet’s 12th studio album — and first in seven years — set for release May 27 in front of its Stadium Tour with Mötley Crüe and special guests Poison and Joan Jett. Gary Graff, Billboard, 17 Mar. 2022 More will inevitably surface that Democrats aren't even thinking about right now. Phil Mattingly, CNN, 10 Feb. 2022 Maybe fired Giants coach Joe Judge will surface somewhere. Brad Biggs,, 4 Feb. 2022 Not long after Auburn’s quadruple-overtime loss to Alabama in the regular-season finale, reports began to surface that Bigsby was weighing his options and transferring from the Plains was on the table. Tom Green |, al, 4 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'surface.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of surface


circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1778, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for surface


French, from Middle French, from sur- + face face, from Old French — more at face

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Time Traveler for surface

Time Traveler

The first known use of surface was circa 1600

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Statistics for surface

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Surface.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for surface


sur·​face | \ ˈsər-fəs How to pronounce surface (audio) \

Kids Definition of surface

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the outside or any one side of an object She floated on the water's surface.
2 : the outside appearance On the surface the idea seems good.



Kids Definition of surface (Entry 2 of 3)

: not deep or real a surface wound a surface friendship


surfaced; surfacing

Kids Definition of surface (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : to come to the surface The submarine surfaced.
2 : to become obvious Claudia's impatience surfaced.— E. L. Konigsburg, From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
3 : to give a new top layer to : make smooth (as by sanding or paving)


sur·​face | \ ˈsər-fəs How to pronounce surface (audio) \

Medical Definition of surface

: the exterior or upper boundary of an object or body the mesial and distal surfaces of a tooth

More from Merriam-Webster on surface

Nglish: Translation of surface for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surface for Arabic Speakers


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