[ soo-per-fish-uhl ]
See synonyms for superficial on
  1. being at, on, or near the surface: a superficial wound.

  2. of or relating to the surface: superficial measurement.

  1. external or outward: a superficial resemblance.

  2. concerned with or comprehending only what is on the surface or obvious: a superficial observer.

  3. shallow; not profound or thorough: a superficial writer.

  4. apparent rather than real.

  5. insubstantial or insignificant: superficial improvements.

Origin of superficial

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English superfyciall, from Late Latin superficiālis, equivalent to Latin superfici(ēs) superficies + -ālis -al1

Other words from superficial

  • su·per·fi·ci·al·i·ty [soo-per-fish-ee-al-i-tee], /ˌsu pərˌfɪʃ iˈæl ɪ ti/, su·per·fi·cial·ness, noun
  • su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverb
  • qua·si-su·per·fi·cial, adjective
  • qua·si-su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverb
  • sub·su·per·fi·cial, adjective
  • sub·su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverb
  • sub·su·per·fi·cial·ness, noun
  • un·su·per·fi·cial, adjective
  • un·su·per·fi·cial·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use superficial in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for superficial


/ (ˌsuːpəˈfɪʃəl) /

  1. of, relating to, being near, or forming the surface: superficial bruising

  2. displaying a lack of thoroughness or care: a superficial inspection

  1. only outwardly apparent rather than genuine or actual: the similarity was merely superficial

  2. of little substance or significance; trivial: superficial differences

  3. lacking originality or profundity: the film's plot was quite superficial

  4. (of measurements) involving only the surface area

Origin of superficial

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

Derived forms of superficial

  • superficiality (ˌsuːpəˌfɪʃɪˈælɪtɪ) or rare superficialness, noun
  • superficially, adverb

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