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From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
Related topics: Earth sciences
superficialsu‧per‧fi‧cial /ˌsuːpəˈfɪʃəl◂ $ -pər-/ ●○○ adjective  1 not looking/studying carefullyCARELESS not studying or looking at something carefully and only seeing the most noticeable thingssuperficial examination/study etc Even a superficial inspection revealed serious flaws. Naturally, such visits can allow only the most superficial understanding of prison life.2 appearanceSEEM seeming to have a particular quality, although this is not true or realsuperficial resemblance/similarity Despite their superficial similarities, the two novels are, in fact, very different. Beneath his refined manners and superficial elegance lay something treacherous.at/on a superficial level At a superficial level, things seem to have remained the same.3 wound/damageLITTLE/NOT MUCH affecting only the surface of your skin or the outside part of something, and therefore not serious She escaped with only superficial cuts and bruises. superficial damage4 personSTUPID/NOT SENSIBLE someone who is superficial does not think about things that are serious or important – used to show disapproval syn shallow All the other girls seemed silly and superficial to Darlene.5 not importantUNIMPORTANT superficial changes, difficulties etc are not important and do not have a big effect syn minor superficial changes in government policies6 top layerHETOP existing in or relating to the top layer of something, especially soil, rock etcsuperficially adverbsuperficiality /ˌsuːpəfɪʃiˈæləti $ -pər-/ noun [uncountable]
Examples from the Corpus
superficialBut Pittsburgh women are not silly or superficial.He had always thought of it as a superficial and outmoded gesture found only in old novels.As a reader I think there is too much superficial cricket autobiography and biography already available.Barlow was treated for a superficial gunshot wound to the leg.To Ahab, the White Whale represents the impossibility of going behind the superficial layers of nature or reality.The head and snout alone bear some superficial likeness to those of that familiar creature.Debbie kept canceling our dates for superficial reasons.The landscape bore a superficial resemblance to England's green and pleasant land, and each house had a small suburban garden.a superficial understanding of physicsThe people are friendly, but only in a superficial way.superficial examination/study etcAfter he'd made a quick and fairly superficial examination I locked the door.Searches are restricted to superficial examination of outer clothing.superficial resemblance/similarityBut that is a superficial similarity.Genesis 1 has often been compared with the Babylonian account of creation to which it bears a superficial resemblance.There were, it was true, any number of superficial similarities.I shall suggest that, although they capture some superficial similarities between the two issues, they are ultimately misleading.The superficial similarities might make a lesser man than Mikhail Gorbachev tremble.The variety underlying the superficial similarity of idiom is enormous, even within the work of a single composer.But such arrangements bear only a superficial resemblance to classic design.They claim that despite superficial similarities with shamanism, something very different is going on.
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