See more synonyms for cosmetic on
  1. a powder, lotion, lipstick, rouge, or other preparation for beautifying the face, skin, hair, nails, etc.
  2. cosmetics, superficial measures to make something appear better, more attractive, or more impressive: The budget committee opted for cosmetics instead of a serious urban renewal plan.
  1. serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face.
  2. used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive, or more impressive: Alterations in the concert hall were only cosmetic and did nothing to improve the acoustics.

Origin of cosmetic

1595–1605; < Greek kosmētikós relating to adornment, equivalent to kosmēt(ós) adorned, arranged (verbid of kosmeîn, derivative of kósmos order, arrangement) + -ikos -ic
Related formscos·met·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·cos·met·ics, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cosmetic

Contemporary Examples of cosmetic

Historical Examples of cosmetic

British Dictionary definitions for cosmetic


  1. any preparation applied to the body, esp the face, with the intention of beautifying it
  1. serving or designed to beautify the body, esp the face
  2. having no other function than to beautifycosmetic illustrations in a book
  3. derogatory designed to cover up a greater flaw or deficiency; superficialtheir resignation is a cosmetic exercise
Derived Formscosmetically, adverbcosmeticology, noun

Word Origin for cosmetic

C17: from Greek kosmētikos, from kosmein to arrange, from kosmos order
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cosmetic

c.1600, "art of beautifying," from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhne) "the art of dress and ornament," from fem. of kosmetikos (see cosmetic (adj.)). Meaning "a preparation for beautifying" attested from 1640s (now often cosmetics).


1640s, from French cosmétique (16c.), from Greek kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order" (see cosmos). Figurative sense of "superficial" is from 1955. Related: Cosmetically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

cosmetic in Medicine


  1. A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application.
  1. Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.
  2. Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.