superfluity (n.) Look up superfluity at
late 14c., from Old French superfluite "excess" (12c.), from Medieval Latin superfluitatem (nominative superfluitas), from superfluus (see superfluous).
superfluous (adj.) Look up superfluous at
early 15c. (earlier superflue, late 14c.), from Latin superfluus "unnecessary," literally "overflowing, running over," from superfluere "to overflow," from super "over" (see super-) + fluere "to flow" (see fluent). Related: Superfluously; superfluousness.
superfly (adj.) Look up superfly at
"excellent, superior," 1971, originally African-American vernacular, from super- + slang sense of fly (adj.).
supergiant (n.) Look up supergiant at
1927, from super- + giant (n.).
superheat (v.) Look up superheat at
1827 (implied in superheated) "to heat to a very high degree," specifically of steam until it resembles a perfect gas, from super- + heat (v.). Related: Superheating.
superhero (n.) Look up superhero at
1908 (in a translation of Nietzsche), from super- + hero. Used in 1930 of Tarzan; modern use is from 1960s.
superhighway (n.) Look up superhighway at
1921, from super- + highway.
superhuman (adj.) Look up superhuman at
1630s, from Medieval Latin superhumanus; see super- + human (adj.). In early use often "divine," since 19c. typically "above the powers or nature of man." Related: Superhumanly.
superimpose (v.) Look up superimpose at
1787, back-formation from superimposition (1680s), or from super- + impose. Compare Latin superimponere "to put upon, place over, place above." Related: Superimposed; superimposing.
superintend (v.) Look up superintend at
"to have charge and direction of," 1610s, from Church Latin superintendere "to oversee" (see superintendent). Related: Superintended; superintending.
superintendence (n.) Look up superintendence at
"act of superintending," c. 1600; from superintendent + -ce, or from Latin superintendens. Related: Superintendency.
superintendent (n.) Look up superintendent at
1550s, originally an ecclesiastical word meaning "bishop" or "minister who supervises churches within a district" (ultimately a loan-translation of Greek episkopos "overseer"), from Medieval Latin superintendentem (nominative superintendens), present participle of Late Latin superintendere "oversee," from Latin super "above" (see super-) + intendere "turn one's attention to, direct" (see intend). Famously used by 16c. radical Protestants in place of bishop, which to them was tainted by Papacy.
[Martinists] studie to pull downe Bishopps, and set vp Superintendents, which is nothing else, but to raze out good Greeke, & enterline bad Latine. [Lyly, "Pappe with an Hatchet," 1589]
The general sense of "a person who has charge of some business" is first recorded 1580s. Meaning "janitor, custodian" is from c. 1935. Shortened form super first attested 1857, especially at first of overseers of sheep ranches in Australia. As an adjective meaning "superintending," from 1590s.
superior (adj.) Look up superior at
late 14c., "higher in position," from Old French superior "higher, upper" (Modern French superieur), from Latin superiorem (nominative superior) "higher," comparative of superus "situated above, upper," from super "above, over" (see super-).

Meaning "higher in rank or dignity" is attested from late 15c.; sense of "of a higher nature or character" is attested from 1530s. Original sense was preserved more strongly in French (as in les étages supérieur "the upper stories"), and in Lake Superior, a loan-translation of French Lac Supérieur, literally "upper lake" (at 600 feet above sea-level it has the highest surface elevation of the five Great Lakes and is the furthest north).
Surprise a person of the class that is supposed to keep servants cleaning his own boots, & either he will go on with the job while he talks to you, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, or else he will explain that the bootboy or scullery-maid is ill & give you to understand that he is, despite appearances, superior to boot-cleaning. If he takes the second course, you conclude that he is not superior to it; if the first, that perhaps he is. [Fowler]
superior (n.) Look up superior at
early 15c., from Latin superior (see superior (adj.)), used in Medieval Latin with a noun sense of "one higher, a superior."
superiority (n.) Look up superiority at
late 15c., from superior (adj.) + -ity, or directly from Medieval Latin superioritatem (nominative superioritas), from superior.
superlative (adj.) Look up superlative at
late 14c., from Old French superlatif "absolute, highest; powerful; best" (13c.) and directly from Late Latin superlativus "extravagant, exaggerated, hyperbolic," from Latin superlatus "exaggerated" (used as past participle of superferre "carry over or beyond"), from super "beyond" (see super-) + lat- "carry," from *tlat-, past participle stem of tollere "to take away" (see extol). Related: Superlatively; superlativeness.

The noun is attested from 1520s, originally in the grammatical sense, "a word in the superlative;" hence "exaggerated language" (1590s).
superman (n.) Look up superman at
1903, coined by George Bernard Shaw to translate German Übermensch, "highly evolved human being that transcends good and evil," from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" (1883-91), by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). First used in German by Hermann Rab (1520s), and also used by Herder and Goethe. Translated as overman (1895) and beyond-man (1896) before Shaw got it right in his play title "Man and Superman" (1903). Application to comic strip hero is from 1938.
So was created ... Superman! champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need! ["Action Comics," June 1, 1938]
supermarket (n.) Look up supermarket at
1933, American English, from super- + market (n.). The 1933 reference is in an article that says the stores themselves began to open around 1931. An early word for a "superstore" was hypermarket (1967).
supermodel (n.) Look up supermodel at
1978, from super- + model (n.).
supernal (adj.) Look up supernal at
mid-15c., "heavenly, divine," from Old French supernal "supreme" (12c.), formed from Latin supernus "situated above, that is above; celestial" (from super "above, over;" see super-) as a contrast to infernal.
supernatant (adj.) Look up supernatant at
"floating on the surface," 1660s, from Latin supernatantem (nominative supernatans), present participle of supernatare "to swim above," from super (see super-) + natare "to swim," frequentative of nare "to swim" (see natatorium). Related: Supernatation (1620s).
supernatural (adj.) Look up supernatural at
early 15c. "of or given by God," from Medieval Latin supernaturalis "above or beyond nature, divine," from Latin super "above" (see super-) + natura "nature" (see nature (n.)). Originally with more of a religious sense, "of or given by God, divine; heavenly;" association with ghosts, etc., has predominated since 19c. Related: Supernaturalism.
That is supernatural, whatever it be, that is either not in the chain of natural cause and effect, or which acts on the chain of cause and effect, in nature, from without the chain. [Horace Bushnell, "Nature and the Supernatural," 1858]
supernatural (n.) Look up supernatural at
1729, "a supernatural being," from supernatural (adj.). From 1830 as "that which is above or beyond the established course of nature."
supernaturally (adv.) Look up supernaturally at
c. 1500, "from God or Heaven," from supernatural (adj.) + -ly (2).
supernova (n.) Look up supernova at
1934, from super- + nova.
supernumerary (adj.) Look up supernumerary at
"exceeding a stated number," c. 1600, from Late Latin supernumarius "excess, counted in over" (of soldiers added to a full legion), from Latin super numerum "beyond the number," from super "beyond, over" (see super-) + numerum, accusative of numerus "number" (see number (n.)). As a noun from 1630s.
superordinate (adj.) Look up superordinate at
1610s, on model of subordinate with super-. Related: Superordination.
superpose (v.) Look up superpose at
1823, from French superposer, from super- (see super-) + poser (see pose (v.1)). Related: Superposed; superposing.
superposition (n.) Look up superposition at
1650s, from French superposition, from Late Latin superpositionem (nominative superpositio) "a placing over," noun of action from past participle stem of superponere "to place over," from super (see super-) + ponere "to put, place" (past participle positus; see position (n.)).
superpower (n.) Look up superpower at
1944, in geopolitical sense of "nation with great interest and ability to exert force in worldwide theaters of conflict," from super- + power (n.). The word itself is attested in physical (electrical power) senses from 1922.
supersaturated (adj.) Look up supersaturated at
1778, past participle adjective from verb supersaturate (1756), from super- + saturate (v.).
supersaturation (n.) Look up supersaturation at
1784, from super- + saturation.
superscribe (v.) Look up superscribe at
"write on the surface" (especially of an envelope), 1590s, from Latin superscribere "write over or above" (see superscript). Related: Superscribed; superscribing.
superscript (n.) Look up superscript at
1580s, "address or direction on a letter," from Middle French superscript, from Latin superscriptus "written above," past participle of superscribere "write over or above something (as a correction)," from super "above" (see super-) + scribere "write" (see script (n.)). Meaning "number or letter written above something" first recorded 1901.
superscription (n.) Look up superscription at
late 14c., from Latin superscriptionem (nominative superscriptio) "a writing above," noun of action from past participle stem of superscribere (see superscript).
supersede (v.) Look up supersede at
mid-15c., Scottish, "postpone, defer," from Middle French superceder "desist, delay, defer," from Latin supersedere literally "sit on top of;" also, with ablative, "stay clear of, abstain from, forbear, refrain from," from super "above" (see super-) + sedere "to sit" (see sedentary). Meaning "displace, replace" first recorded 1640s. Related: Superseded; superseding.
supersedeas (n.) Look up supersedeas at
writ to stay legal proceedings, Latin, literally "you shall desist," second person singular present subjunctive of supersedere "desist, refrain from, forebear" (see supersede).
supersession (n.) Look up supersession at
1650s, from Medieval Latin supersessionem (nominative supersessio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin supersedere "sit on top of" (see supersede).
supersonic (adj.) Look up supersonic at
1919, "of or having to do with sound waves beyond the limit of human hearing," from super- + sonic. Attested from 1934 in sense of "exceeding the speed of sound" (especially as a measure of aircraft speed), leaving the original sense to ultrasonic (1923).
superstar (n.) Look up superstar at
1920, in the sports and entertainment sense (Babe Ruth was one of the first so-called), from super- + star (n.).
superstition (n.) Look up superstition at
early 13c., "false religious belief; irrational faith in supernatural powers," from Latin superstitionem (nominative superstitio) "prophecy, soothsaying; dread of the supernatural, excessive fear of the gods, religious belief based on fear or ignorance and considered incompatible with truth or reason," literally "a standing over," noun of action from past participle stem of superstare "stand on or over; survive," from super "above" (see super-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet). There are many theories to explain the Latin sense development, but none has yet been generally accepted; de Vaan suggests the sense is "cause to remain in existence." Originally in English especially of religion; sense of "unreasonable notion" is from 1794.
superstitious (adj.) Look up superstitious at
late 14c., "involving faith in supernatural powers or magic; characteristic of pagan religion or false religion," from Anglo-French supersticius, Old French supersticios, or directly from Latin superstitiosus "prophetic; full of dread of the supernatural," from superstitio "prophecy, soothsaying, excessive fear of the gods" (see superstition).
superstore (n.) Look up superstore at
1960, from super- + store (n.).
superstructure (n.) Look up superstructure at
1640s, from super- + structure (n.).
supertanker (n.) Look up supertanker at
1921, from super- + tanker.
supervene (v.) Look up supervene at
1640s, "come as something additional," from Latin supervenire "come on top of, come in addition to, come after, follow upon," from super "over, upon" (see super-) + venire "come" (see venue). Related: Supervened; supervening.
supervenient (adj.) Look up supervenient at
1590s, from Latin supervenientem (nominative superveniens), present participle of supervenire "come in addition to" (see supervene). Related: Superveniently.
supervention (n.) Look up supervention at
1640s, from Late Latin superventionem (nominative superventio), noun of action from past participle stem of supervenire "come in addition to" (see supervene).
supervise (v.) Look up supervise at
late 15c., "to look over" (implied in supervising), from Medieval Latin supervisus, past participle of supervidere "oversee, inspect," from Latin super "over" (see super-) + videre "see" (see vision). Meaning "to oversee and superintend the work or performance of others" is attested from 1640s. Related: Supervised.
supervision (n.) Look up supervision at
1630s, from Medieval Latin supervisionem (nominative supervisio), noun of action from past participle stem of supervidere "oversee, inspect" (see supervise).