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How to pronounce superficial (audio)


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Dictionary definition of superficial

Shallow, lacking in depth, or concerned only with surface appearances rather than deeper qualities or meanings.
"The movie's plot was criticized for its superficial treatment of important social issues."

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Detailed meaning of superficial

When we characterize something as superficial, we emphasize its focus on the external and readily observable aspects, often neglecting the complexities or underlying truths. Superficial judgments or relationships, for example, prioritize physical attractiveness or surface-level characteristics over genuine understanding or emotional depth. This term conveys a sense of shallowness and a lack of thorough examination or genuine engagement. Whether it's a superficial analysis of a complex issue, a superficial friendship based on appearances, or superficiality in one's approach to life, this adjective underscores the absence of depth and meaningful substance in the subject at hand.

Example sentences containing superficial

1. Her interest in the subject seemed superficial, as she only skimmed the surface of the topic.
2. The magazine's articles often provided only a superficial analysis of complex issues.
3. His compliments came across as superficial, lacking genuine sincerity.
4. The painting's beauty was only superficial; there was no depth or meaning to it.
5. She had a superficial understanding of the scientific concepts discussed in the lecture.
6. The friendship felt superficial because they only interacted at social gatherings.

History and etymology of superficial

The adjective 'superficial' has its etymological origins in Latin. It is derived from the Latin word 'superficialis,' which is a combination of 'super,' meaning 'above' or 'on the surface,' and 'facies,' meaning 'face' or 'surface.' Therefore, 'superficial' essentially means 'on the surface' or 'pertaining to the surface.' Over time, it evolved to describe things that are shallow, lacking in depth, or concerned primarily with surface appearances rather than deeper qualities or meanings. This etymology underscores the idea that 'superficial' refers to the external or surface aspects of something, highlighting its lack of depth or substance.

Quiz: Find the meaning of superficial

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Further usage examples of superficial

1. The superficial scratches on the car's surface were easily buffed out.
2. The politician's promises were criticized as being superficial and lacking substance.
3. The company's commitment to sustainability appeared superficial, as they continued to pollute.
4. The celebrity's popularity was based on her superficial beauty rather than her talent.
5. The relationship ended because it was built on superficial attraction rather than a deeper connection.
6. The interview questions were superficial, failing to probe deeper into the candidate's qualifications.
7. His apology felt superficial, as he didn't take full responsibility for his actions.
8. The fashion industry often promotes superficial beauty standards that can be harmful.
9. The book's plot may seem superficial at first, but it contains profound themes upon closer inspection.
10. Her concern for others was not superficial; she genuinely cared about their well-being.
11. The judge recognized the defendant's superficial remorse and sentenced accordingly.
12. The debate remained at a superficial level, with no real solutions proposed.
13. The therapist encouraged her to move beyond superficial self-reflection and delve into deeper emotions.
14. The resort's appeal was superficial, with luxurious amenities masking underlying issues with service and cleanliness.
15. She only cared about the superficial aspects of his appearance, not his personality.



shallow, profound, deep, insightful


SAT 20 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Artifice and Falseness, Fake and Insincere

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