Definitions

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

  • adj. Exceeding a fixed, prescribed, or standard number; extra.
  • adj. Exceeding the required or desired number or amount; superfluous. See Synonyms at superfluous.
  • n. One that is in excess of the regular, necessary, or usual number.
  • n. An actor without a speaking part, as one who appears in a crowd scene.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A civil designation for somebody who works in a group, association or public office, without forming part of the regular staff; those distinguished from numerary. (For example, supernumerary judges are those who help the regular judges when there is a surplus amount of work.)
  • n. An extra or walk-on in a film or play; spear-carrier.
  • adj. Extra; beyond the standard or prescribed amount.
  • adj. Greater in number than.
  • adj. Beyond what is necessary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Exceeding the number stated or prescribed.
  • adj. Exceeding a necessary, usual, or required number or quality; superfluous.
  • n. A person or thing beyond the number stated.
  • n. A person or thing beyond what is necessary or usual; especially, a person employed not for regular service, but only to fill the place of another in case of need; specifically, in theaters, a person who is not a regular actor, but is employed to appear in a stage spectacle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Exceeding a number stated or prescribed: as, a supernumerary officer in a regiment.
  • Exceeding a necessary or usual number.
  • n. A person or thing beyond the number stated, or beyond what is necessary or usual; especially, a person not formally a member of a regular body or staff of officials or employees, but retained or employed to act as an assistant or substitute in case of necessity.
  • n. Specifically— A military officer attached to a corps or arm of the service where no vacancy exists. Such an officer receives, in the United States army, the rank of brevet second lieutenant, or additional second lieutenant.
  • n. Theat., one not belonging to the regular company, who appears on the stage, but has no lines to speak. Often colloquially abbreviated super and supe.

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

  • n. a minor actor in crowd scenes
  • adj. more than is needed, desired, or required
  • n. a person serving no apparent function

Etymologies

Latin supernumerārius : super, above; see super- + numerum, accusative of numerus, number; see nem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Late Latin supernumerarius ("excessively high in number"), from super ("above; beyond") + numerum, accusative of numerus ("number"). (Wiktionary)

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