• synonyms


[soo-per-fish-uh l]
  1. being at, on, or near the surface: a superficial wound.
  2. of or relating to the surface: superficial measurement.
  3. external or outward: a superficial resemblance.
  4. concerned with or comprehending only what is on the surface or obvious: a superficial observer.
  5. shallow; not profound or thorough: a superficial writer.
  6. apparent rather than real.
  7. insubstantial or insignificant: superficial improvements.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for unsuperficial


  1. of, relating to, being near, or forming the surfacesuperficial bruising
  2. displaying a lack of thoroughness or carea superficial inspection
  3. only outwardly apparent rather than genuine or actualthe similarity was merely superficial
  4. of little substance or significance; trivialsuperficial differences
  5. lacking originality or profunditythe film's plot was quite superficial
  6. (of measurements) involving only the surface area
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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 unsuperficial



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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

unsuperficial in Medicine


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