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Superfluous

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Superfluous

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:37 pm

• superfluous •


Pronunciation: su-pêr-flu-ês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Excessive, more than is necessary, extra and unnecessary.

Notes: You may use today's word adverbially if you cap it off with the usual suffix, -ly: superfluously. The long noun, superfluousness, is more awkward than the older, more compact superfluity [sup-êr-flu-i-ti]. The latter noun also exhibits a more graceful plural form: superfluities.

In Play: We are entering a season in which superfluity is acceptable. We tend to become excessive with food, presents, and generosity: "I love the Christmas decorations on your house, but I think the lights on everybody's clothes are a bit superfluous." It is a word you can use anywhere anytime: "No, your father and I think that hiring a maid would be superfluous so long as you and your brother are capable of movement."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Latin superfluus "overflowing", the adjective from superfluere "to overflow", composed of super "over" + fluere "to flow". Super comes from a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root that also developed into Greek hyper with the same meaning (hypersensitive, hyperactive). We would expect the PIE [p] to become [f] in English, so Old English ofer, which later became over, does not surprise us. The root for flu- "flow" comes from PIE bhleu- "to swell, well up, flow". It turned into English blow, bloat, and bladder as it accumulated various suffixes over the years. (It would certainly not be superfluous to thank Mark Bailey for suggesting today's extremely Good Word.)
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Re: Superfluous

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:41 am

President Harry Truman was known for an extensive vocabulary and for very bad pronunciation. His defense was that he had never heard many of the words he knew. I recall my first take on pronouncing superfluous. I called it su-per-'flu-əs.
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Re: Superfluous

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:04 pm

Love the PIE root derivations. Amazing.
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Re: Superfluous

Postby MTC » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:17 pm

Among the many gems in the Maxims of Jurisprudence in the California Code, "Superfluity does not vitiate" stands out. Essentially this maxim means means superfluous words do not invalidate or vitiate a statute.
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Re: Superfluous

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Dec 20, 2013 11:30 pm

Yet most laws I have read seem to breed superfluity, as though the writers had been burned previously in court by omitting one word.
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