[soo-per-fish-uh l]


Origin of superficial

1375–1425; late Middle English superfyciall < Late Latin superficiālis, equivalent to Latin superfici(ēs) superficies + -ālis -al1
Related formssu·per·fi·ci·al·i·ty [soo-per-fish-ee-al-i-tee] /ˌsu pərˌfɪʃ iˈæl ɪ ti/, su·per·fi·cial·ness, nounsu·per·fi·cial·ly, adverbqua·si-su·per·fi·cial, adjectivequa·si-su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverbsub·su·per·fi·cial, adjectivesub·su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverbsub·su·per·fi·cial·ness, nounun·su·per·fi·cial, adjectiveun·su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for superficial

Contemporary Examples of superficial

Historical Examples of superficial

  • It consisted of a superficial ablution and the loan of a handkerchief.

  • And I thought how strangely callous we were, how superficial our sympathy.

    Things as They Are

    Amy Wilson-Carmichael

  • But presently it became evident that her interest was more than superficial.

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael

  • Of the courts of law he gives what he calls a superficial sketch.



  • And how was I to make even the most superficial search in three days?

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for superficial



of, relating to, being near, or forming the surfacesuperficial bruising
displaying a lack of thoroughness or carea superficial inspection
only outwardly apparent rather than genuine or actualthe similarity was merely superficial
of little substance or significance; trivialsuperficial differences
lacking originality or profunditythe film's plot was quite superficial
(of measurements) involving only the surface area
Derived Formssuperficiality (ˌsuːpəˌfɪʃɪˈælɪtɪ) or rare superficialness, nounsuperficially, adverb

Word Origin for superficial

C14: from Late Latin superficiālis of the surface, from Latin superficies
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 superficial

late 14c., in anatomical and mathematical uses, "of or relating to a surface," from Latin superficialis "of or pertaining to the surface," from superficies "surface," from super "above, over" (see super-) + facies "form, face" (see face (n.)). Meaning "not deep, without thorough understanding, cursory" (of perceptions, thoughts, etc.) first recorded early 15c. (implied in superficially "not thoroughly").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

superficial in Medicine




Of, affecting, or being on or near the surface.
Not thorough.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.