superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Essential Meaning of superficial

1 : concerned only with what is obvious or apparent : not thorough or complete a superficial analysis of the results/data They had a superficial knowledge/understanding of the topic. These superficial changes/solutions don't address the underlying problem.
2 : affecting only the outer part or surface of something : not deep or serious superficial wounds/cuts The storm only caused superficial damage to the building.
3 : lying close to the surface superficial veins

Full Definition of superficial

1a(1) : of, relating to, or located near a surface
(2) : lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface superficial wounds
b British, of a unit of measure : square superficial foot
2a : concerned only with the obvious or apparent : shallow
b : seen on the surface : external
c : presenting only an appearance without substance or significance

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Other Words from superficial

superficially \ ˌsü-​pər-​ˈfi-​sh(ə-​)lē How to pronounce superficial (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for superficial

Synonyms

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Choose the Right Synonym for superficial

superficial, shallow, cursory mean lacking in depth or solidity. superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features. a superficial analysis of the problem shallow is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character. a light, shallow, and frivolous review cursory suggests a lack of thoroughness or a neglect of details. gave the letter only a cursory reading

Examples of superficial in a Sentence

Wonderbra model Eva Herzigova sued a Canadian underwear company that refused to pay her $30,000 fee because she showed up for the photo shoot with a short haircut that company didn't like. You know, it's shameful in this day and age how superficial and sexist some of these ad execs are. — Lewis Grossberger, Mediaweek, 14 Apr. 2003 Angelina Jolie goes blond and bubbly and hell hasn't even started freezing over. The brooding brunette donned a Monroe-esque platinum coif for her most recent film, "Life or Something Like It." She plays a superficial reporter who learns what's most important in life—which is, apparently, getting it on with Edward Burns. — Katerine Stroup et al., Newsweek, 23 July 2001 All this discussion of money may seem a vulgar recital of greed. But that is really just a superficial, simplistic criticism and usually a dishonest one. — Garth Clark, Ceramics Monthly, October 2001 a superficial analysis of the results They had a superficial knowledge of the topic. These superficial changes don't address the underlying problem. The storm only caused superficial damage to the building.
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Recent Examples on the Web So this could be part of the reason this whole conversation feels superficial. Maggie Fremont, Vulture, 18 Sep. 2021 Yet the filtering of male toxicity and female vulnerability through the lens of horror, something the book does eloquently, feels almost incidental here; the use of things that go bump in the night and easy scare tactics feel superficial at best. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 29 Apr. 2021 The structural issues facing the Argentine political system are substantially more profound than the superficial and lightweight Alberto Fernández. Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 As a classical painter, your job is really to capture the essence of the sitter, not the superficial. Meghan Herbst, Wired, 24 Sep. 2021 Herman, full of bonhomie; Joseph, stiff and superficial. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2021 Strahan agreed that there's work to be done, and later told his co-hosts that Harrison's apology felt superficial. Ally Mauch, PEOPLE.com, 4 Mar. 2021 Murdaugh was shot in the head on Sept. 4, three months after the unsolved slayings of his wife and adult son, but suffered a superficial wound. NBC News, 16 Sep. 2021 Earlier this month, Murdaugh, 53, was airlifted to a hospital after police said he was shot in the head with a superficial wound. al, 16 Sep. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for superficial

Middle English, from Late Latin superficialis, from Latin superficies — see superficies

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Time Traveler for superficial

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near superficial

superfice

superficial

superficial blastula

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Last Updated

13 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Superficial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superficial. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for superficial

superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Kids Definition of superficial

1 : of or relating to the surface or appearance only a superficial cut
2 : not thorough or complete He has only superficial knowledge of the subject.

Other Words from superficial

superficially adverb

superficial

adjective
su·​per·​fi·​cial | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈfish-əl How to pronounce superficial (audio) \

Medical Definition of superficial

1 : of, relating to, or located near the surface superficial blood vessels
2 : lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface superficial wounds

Other Words from superficial

superficially \ -​ē How to pronounce superficial (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on superficial

Nglish: Translation of superficial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of superficial for Arabic Speakers

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