Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
February 17th, 2015
Episode 110 of 758 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 17, 2015 is: superfluous \soo-PER-floo-us\ adjective 1 : exceeding what is sufficient or necessary : extra 2 : not needed : unnecessary Examples: The textbook includes so much superfluous information that students often overlook key points. "Music director Anu Tali's clear direction, free of superfluous gestures, embodied the elegance that shone through, particularly in the increasingly polished blend of string sound that the orchestra has been producing." Gayle Williams, Sarasota (Florida) Herald Tribune, January 11, 2015 Did you know? If you think that superfluous must mean "extra 'fluous,'" along the pattern of such words as superabsorbent and superabundant, you're not far off. Superfluous comes from the Latin adjective superfluus, meaning literally "running over" or "overflowing." Superfluus, in turn, derives from the combination of the prefix super- (meaning "over" or "more") and fluere, "to flow." (Fluere also gave us fluid, fluent, and influence, among others.) Since its first appearance in English in the 15th century, superfluous has referred to an "overflowing" of some supply, as of time or words, which hearkens back to its Latin origins.