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

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
Recent Examples on the Web Although some types of special districts have value, most are superfluous, obscure and burdensome. Judge Glock, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 Clearly, if the bank sanctions were really so severe that doing a SWIFT exclusion would be superfluous, there’d be no reason to refrain from a SWIFT exclusion. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 24 Feb. 2022 Taking a deeper dive into the NOBULL process, here are a few key takeaways on how to leverage technology without burdening the end user with the superfluous. Nicole Gull Mcelroy, Fortune, 15 Mar. 2022 Getting rid of the superfluous is a good place to start. Yec, Forbes, 28 Oct. 2021 In this moment, of course, all of that is superfluous. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 8 Feb. 2022 Robots now are common on the factory floor and other, less physical tasks performed by humans have been rendered less necessary or superfluous. Larry Light, Forbes, 15 May 2021 Another later scene, where Peter thinks better of entrapping Noah, accomplishes the exact same narrative goals without the superfluous elements. Courtney Howard, Variety, 9 Feb. 2022 Wild One says its R&D process considered hair and skin health, environmental impact, and ingredient simplicity, mimicking popular wellness and beauty brands (for humans) and eliminating superfluous softeners and cleaners. Rachel King, Fortune, 22 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Superfluous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for superfluous


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


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