1. A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application.
2. Something superficial that is used to cover a deficiency or defect.
1. Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.
2. Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a bodily feature, defect, or irregularity: cosmetic therapy.
a. Decorative rather than functional: cosmetic fenders on cars.
b. Lacking depth or significance; superficial: made a few cosmetic changes when she took over the company.
[French cosmétique, from Greek kosmētikos, skilled in arranging, from kosmētos, well-ordered, from kosmein, to arrange, from kosmos, order.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.