a. The outer or the topmost boundary of an object.
b. A material layer constituting such a boundary.
a. The boundary of a three-dimensional figure.
b. The two-dimensional locus of points located in three-dimensional space.
c. A portion of space having length and breadth but no thickness.
3. The superficial or external aspect: "a flamboyant, powerful confidence man who lives entirely on the surface of experience" (Frank Conroy).
4. An airfoil.
1. Relating to, on, or at a surface: surface algae in the water.
2. Relating to or occurring on or near the surface of the earth.
b. Apparent as opposed to real.
v. sur·faced, sur·fac·ing, sur·fac·es
1. To provide with a surface or apply a surface to: surface a table with walnut; surface a road with asphalt.
2. To bring to the surface: surface a submarine.
3. To make known; expose or reveal: the first news report that surfaced the allegations.
1. To rise to the surface.
2. To emerge after concealment.
3. To work or dig a mine at or near the surface of the ground.
on the surface
To all intents and purposes; to all outward appearances: a soldier who, on the surface, appeared brave and patriotic.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.