Word: superfluous

Pronunciation: soo-PƏR-flə-wəs

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: unnecessary, especially through being more than enough

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Today’s Word of the Week is a good one to know for unsatisfactory writing. Often when a writer goes overboard with the descriptions in their fiction, it detracts from the action of their story. In this case, an editor or reviewer could say the detail in the story is “superfluous”, as it has crossed a limit into being unnecessarily wordy. Writers beware: detailed descriptions are fine, but you never want them to be excessively elaborate!

To be “superfluous” is to be excessive and thus unnecessary. The word arose in late Middle English and comes from the Latin adjective superfluus, meaning “in excess”. This adjective comprises the preposition super “over” and the verb fluere “to flow”.

With its roots in the Latin words for “over” and “flow”, it’s no wonder the adjective “superfluous” easily brings to mind the image of water overflowing. While it doesn’t necessarily have to apply to liquid, this image does make it easier to memorize the word’s definition of excess. Whether you’re describing too many objects or too many ideas, “superfluous” is a good word to keep in mind for anything that’s more than necessary. Have fun writing about the “superfluous” things in your stories; just take care not to use “superfluous” detail in your narrative! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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