from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application.
  • noun Something superficial that is used to cover a deficiency or defect.
  • adjective Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.
  • adjective Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a bodily feature, defect, or irregularity.
  • adjective Decorative rather than functional.
  • adjective Lacking depth or significance; superficial.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Pertaining to beauty; beautifying; improving beauty, particularly the beauty of the complexion. Also cosmetical.
  • noun Any preparation that renders the skin soft, pure, and white, or helps or professes to be able to help to beautify or improve the complexion.
  • noun The art of anointing or decorating the human body, as with toilet preparations, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Any external application intended to beautify and improve the complexion.
  • adjective Imparting or improving beauty, particularly the beauty of the complexion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective External or superficial; pertaining only to the surface or appearance of something.
  • noun Any substances applied to enhance the external color or texture of the skin, e.g. lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner; makeup.
  • noun A feature existing only on the surface.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a toiletry designed to beautify the body
  • adjective serving an esthetic rather than a useful purpose
  • adjective serving an aesthetic purpose in beautifying the body


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French cosmétique, from Greek kosmētikos, skilled in arranging, from kosmētos, well-ordered, from kosmein, to arrange, from kosmos, order.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek κοσμητική (kosmetike) "the art of dress and ornament", from κοσμητής (kosmetes) "orderer, director, decorator", from κοσμέω (kosmeo) "to order, to arrange, to rule, to adorn, to equip, to dress, to embellish".


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word cosmetic.


  • In fact, even the term cosmetic dentists was virtually new to me.

    Article Source 2009

  • You know, irregulars, what they call cosmetic blemished items used to account for a real large percentage of what was sold at outlets.

    CNN Transcript Apr 11, 2006 2006

  • Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, expressed support for continued protests and condemned what he called "cosmetic change" in government as an "insult to the revolution."

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion 2011

  • Suzanne Smith, (D-Hebron) wants the state government to regulate the use of weed and insect control products to limit what she calls cosmetic use.

    GraniteGrok 2010

  • The fellow works closely with physicians who specialize in cosmetic surgery and with additional oculoplastic surgeons.

    Oculoplastic Fellowship 2010

  • Interaction with different services at the Center for Human Appearance at both the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia provides an opportunity for learning "cutting edge" techniques involving concepts in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

    Oculoplastic Fellowship 2010

  • He represents triangulation resulting in cosmetic solutions.

    Maybe Bill Is Lonely - The Caucus Blog - 2008

  • OASIS will initially focus on certifying ingredients used in cosmetic/personal care products but will likely branch out to include sustainable practices and packaging.

    19 posts from March 2008 2008

  • Officially, the FDA has this to say about the phrase: A cosmetic is considered misbranded if its safety has not adequately been substantiated, and it does not bear the following conspicuous statement on the PDP:

    Lipstick Making - Filling Containers & Labeling Anne-Marie 2008

  • She's an announcer on the Soap Channel, with a good voice, but bad taste in cosmetic surgery.

    Archive 2006-01-08 Michael Evans 2006


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.