Definitions

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

  • adj. Of, affecting, or being on or near the surface: a superficial wound.
  • adj. Concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; shallow.
  • adj. Apparent rather than actual or substantial: a superficial resemblance.
  • adj. Trivial; insignificant: made only a few superficial changes in the manuscript.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Shallow, lacking substance.
  • adj. At face value.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the surface.
  • adj. Being near the surface.
  • adj. Two-dimensional; drawn on a flat surface.
  • n. A surface detail.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the superficies, or surface; lying on the surface; shallow; not deep.
  • adj. Reaching or comprehending only what is obvious or apparent; not deep or profound; shallow; -- said especially in respect to study, learning, and the like.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Lying in or on, or pertaining to, the superficies or surface; not penetrating below the surface, literally or figuratively; being only on the surface; not reaching to the interior or essence; shallow: as, a superficial color; a superficial resemblance.
  • Of persons or their mental states or acts, comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or profound; not thorough.
  • In anatomy, not deep-seated or profound; lying on the surface of some part, or near but not on the surface of the whole body; subcutaneous; cutaneous: specifically said of various tissues and structures.
  • Synonyms External, exterior, outer.
  • Slight, smattering, shallow.

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

  • adj. of, affecting, or being on or near the surface
  • adj. concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually
  • adj. of little substance or significance

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French superficiel, from Latin superficiālis, from superficiēs, surface; see superficies.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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