Definition of superficial in English:


Syllabification: su·per·fi·cial
Pronunciation: /ˌso͞opərˈfiSHəl


  • 1Existing or occurring at or on the surface: the building suffered only superficial damage
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    • The damage was superficial and the problem fixed.
    • It is as if the novel's intellectual and ideological muddle is merely a superficial layer of flotsam bobbing on a boiling sea of emotion.
    • For every study finding that they are safe, there is one suggesting that they might indeed cause some damage, superficial or otherwise.
  • 1.1Situated or occurring on the skin or immediately beneath it: the superficial muscle groups
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    • Masson takes him to a nearby doctor who allays his fears that he only suffered superficial flesh wounds - he has nothing serious to worry about.
    • I was in two major car accidents, which left me with superficial scars that I will carry the rest of my life.
    • A spokesman confirmed he was detained overnight with superficial injuries.
  • 1.2Appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely: the resemblance between the breeds is superficial
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    • A superficial comparison of Roth with Malamud reveals two versions of the problems of self-definition which is at the core of this literature.
    • His new collection, Oblivion, contains eight stories of uncompromising difficulty, with certain superficial similarities.
    • It only affirms the hugely popular, superficial notion of a culture in crisis, of a culture lost in a constant loop of revivals.
  • 1.3Not thorough, deep, or complete; cursory: he had only the most superficial knowledge of foreign countries
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    • Before reading the book I only had a superficial knowledge of his life and career.
    • He gives a superficial and inadequate account of Kipling's curious, subtle, savage, contradictory passion for England, which was both his home and his place of exile.
    • But only for people who have had sufficient experience of their own - and then only to appreciate other situations, not to pronounce on them with the most superficial of knowledge.
    cursory, perfunctory, casual, sketchy, desultory, token, slapdash, offhand, rushed, hasty, hurried
  • 1.4Not having or showing any depth of character or understanding: perhaps I was a superficial person
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    • In Maelstrom, the main characters are slick, superficial people who deepen emotionally because of the trauma.
    • On the whole, the cast does a very nice job with their superficial characters and makes them charming, funny, and/or despicable as needed.
    • And the characters are so superficial that we hardly care which of these different fates may befall them.
    shallow, surface, skin-deep, artificial; empty, hollow, meaninglessfacile, shallow, flippant, empty-headed, trivial, frivolous, silly, inane



Pronunciation: /-ˌfiSHēˈalitē/
noun (plural superficialities)
More example sentences
  • All the ‘designers’ here seem so caught up in what they do that they can't even realize that the entire profession revolves around superficiality.
  • The superficiality of film does not lend itself well to the complex and multilayered nature of the novel on which the film is based.
  • When it was first shown, their work seemed to represent a new low in superficiality and attitudinizing; now it looks like some kind of classic, the inspiration for a thousand shows about the bedrooms of American teenagers.


More example sentences
  • Fashionable implies superficialness, a preoccupation with identity and consumption rather than an interest in politics and foreign policy.
  • He wants people to look beyond the superficialness of the subject's surface and see the beauty within.
  • This game certainly had potential but now is stuck in superficialness and this results in a lot of missed opportunities.


late Middle English: from late Latin superficialis, from Latin superficies (see superficies).

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