surface

noun
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

surface

adjective

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

surface

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from surface

Verb

surfacer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for surface

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 During these flights, the engineers sought data about flight at high velocity or heating due to shock impingement as air flowed around the X-15 surfaces. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "What it was like to fly the baddest airplane the world has ever known," 16 Sep. 2019 Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Ghost Cupcakes," 12 Sep. 2019 Today, Fitzgerald says her eavesdropping helped her figure out how to play a character with serious problems lurking beneath a picture-perfect surface—and how to let audiences glimpse the battle between the two. Adam Rathe, Town & Country, "To Prepare for The Goldfinch, Willa Fitzgerald Eavesdropped on the Streets of the Upper East Side," 12 Sep. 2019 But the president’s desire to end America’s long-standing military conflicts and strike deals with longtime U.S. adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, exposed sharp differences between the two men that lingered under the surface. Ishaan Tharoor, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: Trump axes Bolton, the hawk he brought to the White House," 11 Sep. 2019 Netanyahu was forced to call for a do-over vote, thrusting the secular-religious issues that have longed bubbled under the surface of Israeli society to the fore. Washington Post, "Israelis head to the polls with one question in mind: Should Netanyahu stay or go?," 18 Sep. 2019 But in this case, the surface of the ground ring was pitted, not smooth. BostonGlobe.com, "The fracture – on the front axle of the third car — derailed the Red Line train on the morning of June 11 near the JFK-UMass station.," 17 Sep. 2019 Friedman’s photographs were a window into a subculture percolating under the surface of Ronald Reagan’s America. Los Angeles Times, "11 anticipated music books this fall," 13 Sep. 2019 But in this case, researchers designed their ceramic material to be heated, on its bottom side, by warm air just above the surface of a rooftop, and to be passively cooled, on its top side, by the sky. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "This new device generates light from the darkness of space," 12 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In addition to the 2018 slur that surfaced Thursday, Gillis used the same word repeatedly to refer to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and others in a podcast recorded in May. Los Angeles Times, "‘SNL’ fires Shane Gillis over racist slurs — and he seems OK with that," 16 Sep. 2019 At the same time, though, the workplace complaints that surfaced this year were about the culture that has developed under Flynn and Jay Berhalter. Grant Wahl, SI.com, "With CEO Dan Flynn Stepping Down, What Now for U.S. Soccer?," 9 Sep. 2019 As San Jose State heads into a bye week in hopes of fixing the slew of problems that surfaced Saturday night, are four takeaways from 23rd loss in 27 games of the Brennan era. C.j. Peterson, The Mercury News, "Takeaways: San Jose State allows Golden Hurricane to run right through them," 8 Sep. 2019 Yelp has always been a helpful discovery platform that surfaces great local businesses based on your search. Allen Kim, CNN, "Vegans, rejoice! Yelp will now let you personalize your search," 27 Aug. 2019 Much of the information that has surfaced in the press about JEDI is the product of investigations performed by Oracle and its lawyers. James Bandler, ProPublica, "How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon," 22 Aug. 2019 Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said only that the company is working with the FAA and other regulators on software to fix the problem that surfaced in June. Tom Krisher, Fortune, "Boeing Adds a Second Flight Control Computer on the 737 Max to Boost Reliability, Sources Say," 2 Aug. 2019 The image of Laremy Tunsil taking a bong hit from a gas mask that surfaced on draft night in 2016 didn’t just tank his draft stock, and make the Ole Miss offensive lineman infamous. Omar Kelly, sun-sentinel.com, "A more mature Laremy Tunsil wants a contract extension from Dolphins, but he isn’t pushing for it," 27 July 2019 Thursday’s memo did not elaborate on how the software performed in testing or any issues that surfaced during the pilot program. Tess Sheets, orlandosentinel.com, "Orlando says it won’t continue testing Amazon’s controversial face-scanning technology Rekognition," 18 July 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of surface

Noun

circa 1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1778, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for surface

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about surface

Statistics for surface

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for surface

The first known use of surface was circa 1600

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for surface

surface

noun
How to pronounce surface (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of surface

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an outside part or layer of something
: the upper layer of an area of land or water
: the flat, top part of something (such as a table or desk) that you can work on

surface

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of surface (Entry 2 of 3)

: involving only the parts that are easy to see or notice
: involving the removal of the surface of a large area of land to get at coal or other material that is near to the surface

surface

verb

English Language Learners Definition of surface (Entry 3 of 3)

: to rise to the surface of water
: to appear or become obvious after being hidden or not seen
: to put a surface on (something, such as a road)

surface

noun
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.

surface

adjective

Kids Definition of surface (Entry 2 of 3)

: not deep or real a surface wound a surface friendship

surface

verb
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, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
3 : to give a new top layer to : make smooth (as by sanding or paving)

surface

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on surface

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for surface

Spanish Central: Translation of surface

Nglish: Translation of surface for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of surface for Arabic Speakers

Comments on surface

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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