Definition of superman in English:



  • 1A US cartoon, TV, and film character having great strength, the ability to fly, and other extraordinary powers.

    • ‘Let's play fashion expert for a second and compare the new Superman to the old-school Supermen.’
    • ‘I grew up on Daredevil and Iron Man and Spider-Man and Batman and Superman and The Hulk.’
    • ‘Yeah, there's a Superman graphic novel that's being drawn right now.’
    • ‘It was kind of a combination of Superman, Batman, Santa Claus, and a rock band.’
    • ‘It was one of the worst cases of special effects regression since the lesser known of the Supermen movies.’
    • ‘Where else could you see Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, plus a slew of visitors from the DC Comics world, in the same place every week?’
    • ‘But Superman moved away from Smallville, you say.’
    • ‘They make Superman look geriatric and Batman slow to go.’
    • ‘The songs are B-side forgettables and the plot might have been written for a Superman comic 15 years after anyone gave a damn.’
    • ‘He's Superman in black, with no Kryptonite in sight.’
    • ‘Is not the admiration of people of all ages for our Tarzans, Supermen, Lone Rangers and indestructible detectives the result of a love for romanticism?’
    • ‘With its mix of traditionalism, inventiveness, and healthy respect for the mythology, this is a Superman for all seasons.’
    • ‘Superheroes Batman and Superman are set to go head to head in a new movie.’
    1. 1.1a supermaninformal A man with exceptional physical or mental ability:
      ‘appearing in that number of races would have taxed the strength of a superman’
  • 2The ideal superior man of the future who could rise above conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values, as described by Friedrich Nietzsche in Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883–5).

    Also called Übermensch
    • ‘For Nietzsche, Manu and his code of caste regulations became the basis for a theory of the superman, just as the brahmin and the Aryan fused to incarnate the notion of ‘pure blood.’’
    • ‘It could be the deconstruction of the myth of the Nietzschean superman.’
    • ‘According to Nietzsche, man could be saved by a new type of man, the ‘Übermensch,’ the Superman.’
    • ‘Long years ago, at the very beginning of my writing career, I attacked Nietzsche and his superman idea.’


Late 19th century (in superman): from super- ‘exceptional’+ man, coined in imitation of German Übermensch (used by Nietzsche).