View synonyms for surface


[ sur-fis ]


  1. the outer face, outside, or exterior boundary of a thing; outermost or uppermost layer or area.
  2. any face of a body or thing:

    the six surfaces of a cube.

  3. extent or area of outer face; superficial area.
  4. the outward appearance, especially as distinguished from the inner nature:

    to look below the surface of a matter.

  5. Geometry. any figure having only two dimensions; part or all of the boundary of a solid.
  6. land or sea transportation, rather than air, underground, or undersea transportation.
  7. Aeronautics. an airfoil.


  1. of, on, or pertaining to the surface; external.
  2. apparent rather than real; superficial:

    to be guilty of surface judgments.

  3. of, relating to, or via land or sea:

    surface mail.

  4. Linguistics. belonging to a late stage in the transformational derivation of a sentence; belonging to the surface structure.

verb (used with object)

, sur·faced, sur·fac·ing.
  1. to finish the surface of; give a particular kind of surface to; make even or smooth.
  2. to bring to the surface; cause to appear openly:

    Depth charges surfaced the sub. So far we've surfaced no applicants.

verb (used without object)

, sur·faced, sur·fac·ing.
  1. to rise to the surface:

    The submarine surfaced after four days.

  2. to work on or at the surface.


/ ˈsɜːfɪs /


    1. the exterior face of an object or one such face
    2. ( as modifier )

      surface gloss

    1. the area or size of such a face
    2. ( as modifier )

      surface measurements

  1. material resembling such a face, with length and width but without depth
    1. the superficial appearance as opposed to the real nature
    2. ( as modifier )

      a surface resemblance

  2. geometry
    1. the complete boundary of a solid figure
    2. a continuous two-dimensional configuration
    1. the uppermost level of the land or sea
    2. ( as modifier )

      surface transportation

  3. come to the surface
    to emerge; become apparent
  4. on the surface
    to all appearances
“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


  1. to rise or cause to rise to or as if to the surface (of water, etc)
  2. tr to treat the surface of, as by polishing, smoothing, etc
  3. tr to furnish with a surface
  4. intr mining
    1. to work at or near the ground surface
    2. to wash surface ore deposits
  5. intr to become apparent; emerge
  6. informal.
    1. to wake up
    2. to get up
“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
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Derived Forms

  • ˈsurfacer, noun
  • ˈsurfaceless, adjective
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Other Words From

  • surface·less adjective
  • surfac·er noun
  • non·surface noun adjective
  • un·surfaced adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of surface1

First recorded in 1605–15; from French; equivalent to sur- 1 + face; apparently modeled on Latin superficies superficies
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Word History and Origins

Origin of surface1

C17: from French, from sur on + face face , probably on the model of Latin superficies
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Idioms and Phrases

see on the surface ; scratch the surface .
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Example Sentences

Then tipped my feet up, pushed below the surface and held my breath, listening.

Meticulous in construction, Wu’s patterns nonetheless slip, slide and oscillate — much like images made by simply brushing paint onto a surface.

Three and a half billion years ago, all but a couple percent of the Earth’s surface was deep underwater, researchers have estimated, and LUCA lived far before that.

Make sure your mask stays folded so the inside doesn’t touch any other surface.

After entering orbit, it will begin a landing attempt with the aim to place the rover on the surface in the massive impact basin Utopia Planitia.

The more resources and education society becomes equipped with, the fewer stories like yours will surface.

The most exciting and thrillingly unique artist to surface in 2014.

Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, making sure that the bowl does not touch the surface of the water.

You can go as deep as you like, or float about on the surface.

Nicki treats the obsession with her pop ambitions as an irrelevant, surface-level irritation.

First a shower of shells dropping all along the lower ridges and out over the surface of the Bay.

Some of those halls that Mr. Meadow Mouse mentioned ran right out beneath the surface of the garden.

It depends upon the fact that bile acids lower surface tension.

She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water.

Its vitals were going—were gone, before the smallest indications of mischief appeared upon the surface.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




surfsurface acoustic wave