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

  • noun The outer or the topmost boundary of an object.
  • noun A material layer constituting such a boundary.
  • noun The boundary of a three-dimensional figure.
  • noun The two-dimensional locus of points located in three-dimensional space.
  • noun A portion of space having length and breadth but no thickness.
  • noun The superficial or external aspect.
  • noun An airfoil.
  • adjective Relating to, on, or at a surface.
  • adjective Relating to or occurring on or near the surface of the earth.
  • adjective Superficial.
  • adjective Apparent as opposed to real.
  • intransitive verb To provide with a surface or apply a surface to.
  • intransitive verb To rise to the surface.
  • intransitive verb To emerge after concealment.
  • intransitive verb To work or dig a mine at or near the surface of the ground.
  • idiom (on the surface) To all intents and purposes; to all outward appearances.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The bounding or limiting parts of a body; the parts of a body which are immediately adjacent to another body or to empty space (or the air); superficies; outside: distinguished as a physical surface.
  • noun The boundary between two solid spaces not adjacent to a third: distinguished as a mathematical surface.
  • noun Outward or external appearance: what appears on a slight view or without examination.
  • noun In fortification, that part of the side which is terminated by the flank prolonged and the angle of the nearest bastion.
  • noun A centrosurface.
  • noun A special case of the above, with four conical points. Generally distinguished as Dupin's cyclide.
  • noun where ϕ = 0 is a primitive surface.
  • noun An elassoidal surface (which see, above): an ordinary use, but not quite accurate.
  • noun A surface generated by the helicoidal motion of a right line.
  • noun The surface often originally, and better, called the Roman surface [discovered by Jacob Steiner (1796-1863), undoubtedly the greatest of all geometricians], being a quartic surface of the third class, having three double lines. In its symmetrical form its appearance is thus described: Take a tetrahedron, and inscribe in each face a circle. There will be, of course, two circles touching at the mid-point of each edge of the tetrahedron; each circle will contain, on its circumference, at angular distances of 120°, three mid-points; and the lines joining these with the center of the tetrahedron, produced beyond the center, meet the opposite edges … joining the mid-points. … Now truncate the tetrahedron by planes parallel to the faces, so as to reduce the altitudes, each to three fourths of the original value; and from the center of each new face round off symmetrically up to the adjacent three circles; and within each circle scoop down to the center of the tetrahedron, the bounding surface of the excavation passing through [that is, containing] the three right lines, and the sections by planes parallel to the face being in the neighborhood of the face nearly circular, but, as they approach the center, assuming a trigoidal form, and being close to the center an indefinitely small equilateral triangle. We have thus the surface, consisting of four lobes united only by the lines through the mid-points of opposite edges—these lines being consequently nodal lines, the mid-points being pinch-points of the surface, and the faces singular planes, each touching the surface along the inscribed circle. (Cayley, Proceedings London Math. Soc., V. 14.)
  • noun More generally, a surface generated by a curve the plane of which moves in any way so that every line in it remains parallel to itself.
  • noun Synonyms Superficies, Exterior, etc. See outside.
  • Of or pertaining to the surface; external; hence, superficial; specious; insincere: as, mere surface politeness or loyalty.
  • To put a surface (of a particular kind) on, or give a (certain) surface to; specifically, to give a fine or even surface to; make plain or smooth.

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

  • noun The exterior part of anything that has length and breadth; one of the limits that bound a solid, esp. the upper face; superficies; the outside.
  • noun Hence, outward or external appearance.
  • noun (Geom.) A magnitude that has length and breadth without thickness; superficies.
  • noun (Fort.) That part of the side which is terminated by the flank prolonged, and the angle of the nearest bastion.
  • noun etc. See under Caustic, Heating, etc.
  • noun See under Condensation, and Condenser.
  • noun (Mach.) an instrument consisting of a standard having a flat base and carrying an adjustable pointer, for gauging the evenness of a surface or its height, or for marking a line parallel with a surface.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the larva of the great yellow underwing moth (Triphœna pronuba). It is often destructive to the roots of grasses and other plants.
  • noun (Mach.) a plate having an accurately dressed flat surface, used as a standard of flatness by which to test other surfaces.
  • noun printing from a surface in relief, as from type, in distinction from plate printing, in which the ink is contained in engraved lines.
  • transitive verb To give a surface to; especially, to cause to have a smooth or plain surface; to make smooth or plain.
  • transitive verb To work over the surface or soil of, as ground, in hunting for gold.
  • intransitive verb To rise from the depths of a liquid to the surface.
  • intransitive verb To become known or public; -- said of information.
  • intransitive verb To show up, as a person who was in hiding.


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

[French : sur-, above (from Old French; see sur–) + face, face (from Old French; see face).]


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