(noun, adjective)


1. concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually

- superficial similarities

- a superficial mind

- his thinking was superficial and fuzzy

Similar word(s): careless, outward, apparent, ostensible, seeming, dilettante, dilettanteish, dilettantish, sciolistic, facile, slick, glib, looking, sounding, shallow, frivolous, frothy

2. of, affecting, or being on or near the surface

- superficial measurements

- the superficial area of the wall

- a superficial wound

3. of little substance or significance

- a few superficial editorial changes

Similar word(s): insignificant, unimportant, trivial

4. occurring on or near the surface of the skin

- superficial burns

- superficial facial injuries

Similar word(s): shallow

5. hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough

- In his paper, he showed a very superficial understanding of psychoanalytic theory

Similar word(s): careless, casual, cursory, passing, perfunctory


1. (chiefly in plural) A surface detail.

- He always concentrates on the superficials and fails to see the real issue.