Definition of surface in English:

surface

noun

  • 1The outside part or uppermost layer of something:

    ‘the earth's surface’
    ‘poor road surfaces’
    • ‘Uneven road surfaces stressed the joint where the lead trailer attached to the truck, and weakened the frame.’
    • ‘The rover could reach the Martian surface as early as Wednesday morning.’
    • ‘The local authority will also have to take more responsibility for poor quality road surfaces and signs in the town.’
    • ‘The road surface has been in a poor state for several months and news that remedial action is about to take place is indeed welcome.’
    • ‘City of York Council chiefs said the work had to be done because the road surface was in such poor condition.’
    • ‘However, under Irish conditions, it is handicapped by its inability to cope with poor road surfaces.’
    • ‘This meant that water from the road was not being directed into the sewer and instead was washing the earth away from under the road surface.’
    • ‘On sunny days, scratch the soil surface and examine debris to see if worms are hiding under it.’
    • ‘On the inside they found that it looked much like the outside surface.’
    • ‘The answer was to give all X-type models four-wheel drive and this accounts for the car's truly exceptional handling and roadholding, even on poor road surfaces.’
    • ‘This results in very fine handling and roadholding and on poor road surfaces, the suspension gave a truly mature ride.’
    • ‘Outside, non-transparent surfaces are clad in copper.’
    • ‘Where road surfaces were particularly poor it is possible that horseback may have been preferred.’
    • ‘Mulching is a simple process of covering the soil surface with materials to prevent direct evaporation of soil moisture.’
    • ‘Care should be taken not to scratch the smooth surface of the bat.’
    • ‘A little over 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water.’
    • ‘A survey of 2,200 drivers showed that one in three suffered mood changes blaming the weather, tiredness or even poor road surfaces.’
    • ‘When the stigma lobes spread out, this pollen is then deposited on the inner stigmatic surface.’
    • ‘The road surface had become uneven with potholes and poor camber.’
    • ‘Tyres fail to grip when brakes are applied and contact with the road surface is poor.’
    outside, exterior
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The level top of something:
      ‘roll out the dough on a floured surface’
      • ‘In each case, when it came time to start rolling, I first lightly floured the rolling surface.’
      • ‘Make sure to position barbecues on firm, level surfaces before starting to cook and never carry or move a lit barbecue.’
      • ‘Knead it by hand a couple of times on a flat, floured surface.’
      • ‘It was important for the candle to sit on a level surface and not turn over when it was lit.’
      • ‘Slab sawing, flat sawing and floor sawing are done on reasonably level surfaces.’
      • ‘All level surfaces are covered with stacks of books and DVDs, and a thick layer of dust sits on anything I'm not immediately using.’
      • ‘What's the advice that books always give after they tell you to lightly flour your baking surface?’
      • ‘All you need to provide is a level surface, a power supply and about £7,000.’
      • ‘Set the peel on a level surface and dust with about 2 tbsp of cornmeal.’
      • ‘Turn out the mixture on to a surface lightly dusted with flour and shape into a round of about 2.5cm thick.’
      • ‘Her father had saved it since the smooth, flat surface was still workable.’
      • ‘Lay the ladder down on its side on a level surface, then park the mower right on top of the ladder legs.’
      • ‘To start the engine hold the saw firmly in a position on a level surface by putting the right foot in the handle and making sure the chain is clear.’
      • ‘Creating a flat, smooth surface is a skill that some finishers develop quickly, while others never do.’
      • ‘Add just enough flour to the rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking.’
      • ‘Assemble the table on a level surface, turn the top wheel upside down and place the seat wheel on top of it.’
      • ‘Begin by placing the cordial container on a level surface to allow the sediment to settle.’
      • ‘Simple single-basin distillers work best on flat, level surfaces, and can be constructed fairly easily.’
      • ‘Level surfaces for push-ups, burpees and crunches are also abundant.’
      • ‘Using a small spoon, sprinkle the surface with sago flour.’
      worktop, top, working top, work surface, counter, table, stand, horizontal surface
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The area of an outer part or uppermost layer of something:
      ‘the surface area of a cube’
      • ‘Untouched wild places have now shrunk to one-sixth of the Earth's land surface.’
    3. 1.3 The upper limit of a body of liquid:
      ‘fish floating on the surface of the water’
      • ‘Avoid installing directly under trees where leaves will clutter the surface of the pond.’
      • ‘This gives the surface of the sea water a real froth, and fills the room with an ozone tang as sharp as if you had jammed your nose in a giant photocopier.’
      • ‘However, if it rains, then the surface of their pond becomes rippled.’
      • ‘Packages are shaped and sealed below the surface of the liquid to lock out air space in the package.’
      • ‘As Pen stared into the darkness she began to see images float across it like leaves across the surface of a body of water.’
      • ‘The surface of a pond represents mental possibility, everything you imagine you could attain.’
      • ‘The meniscus is the curved, upper surface of a liquid formed when in a tube.’
      • ‘The pollution is immense, and there are pieces or rubbish floating on the surface of the water.’
      • ‘The blue light flashed across the water's surface, turning her body different shades of blues and aquas.’
      • ‘Then her gaze shifted to the insects that were skimming the surface of the water like it was glass.’
      • ‘Why can we see beneath water whereas the ray of vision reflects off opaque bodies and the surface of water is opaque?’
      • ‘Although they are rather tough, the bulk of the plant is limited to the water surface.’
      • ‘It is universally understood that heaving a major portion of your body over the surface of the water is a tough thing to do.’
      • ‘Most of the pictorial interest here is concentrated in the reflective surface of the water.’
      • ‘The surface of the liquid undulated gently, then more insistently, looking, not just a little, as though it were alive.’
      • ‘She was veiled in a dark cloak, billowing around her slim body and skimming the surface of the water.’
    4. 1.4[in singular] The outward appearance of someone or something, especially as distinct from less obvious aspects:
      ‘Tom was a womanizer, but on the surface he remained respectable’
      [as modifier] ‘surface appearances’
      • ‘It's only because of this carefree approach to life that this crime-ridden society appears on the surface to be normal.’
      • ‘Young artists of this era rarely try to get the gist of their times by describing surface appearances.’
      • ‘It's just a metaphor for self-awareness and seeing what's beyond the surface.’
      • ‘If you look, you can read a story in a face, but the motive of this project has been to explore beyond the surface, past the face.’
      • ‘We peer deep beneath the surface of appearances, and far into the cosmic past.’
      • ‘This is an intriguing study based on a wealth of knowledge combined with a capacity to see beyond the surface to the truths that lie beneath.’
      • ‘Part of its success is what lies below the surface of society.’
      • ‘The camera never tries to go beyond the surface, leaving that to the audience.’
      • ‘On the surface, the obvious answer seems to be affirmative.’
      • ‘Obviously violence is there just under the surface in every society.’
      • ‘What distinguished many of the Young British Artists was their reluctance to probe beyond the surface of appearance.’
      • ‘For him, enlightenment can be attained with a simple cruise along the surface of appearance.’
      • ‘One moves on, yet the pains and joys remain below the surface for years and cannot really be discussed.’
      • ‘Organised religion in this, the world's most populous Muslim country, is often seen as little more than a veneer on the surface of society.’
      • ‘Both see the lasting truth beneath the surface of mere outward appearance.’
      • ‘Gillian's character, Lady Dedlock, is a society beauty and on the surface appears icy cool.’
      • ‘This difference is the source of surplus value, which appears on the surface of society in the form of profit, interest and rent.’
      • ‘The rage that sits just below the surface of civil society comes closest to the skin at the front lines of retail.’
      • ‘I despair that the public doesn't seem to be able to consider anything beyond the surface.’
      • ‘Often after a loss, a storm of inner turmoil and stress remains just below the surface.’
      outward appearance, superficial appearance, facade
      at first glance, to the casual eye, outwardly, to all appearances, apparently, ostensibly, superficially, externally, visibly
      View synonyms
  • 2Geometry
    A continuous set of points that has length and breadth but no thickness.

    • ‘The following year he published in Crelle's Journal a paper giving results about trigonometric formulas on surfaces of constant curvature.’
    • ‘Among closed surfaces, spherical, flat, and hyperbolic geometry are mutually exclusive.’
    • ‘In this case, the toroidal surface has become an off-axis segment of an ellipsoid.’
    • ‘He also considered curves of double curvature on the sphere and the quadrature of parts of a spherical surface.’
    • ‘I found there that the solution of Archytus involves three surfaces - torus, cylinder, and cone.’

adjective

  • 1[attributive] Relating to or found on the surface of something:

    ‘surface layers’
    • ‘Once depressions are full, there will be more surface runoff because of the slower infiltration rate.’
    • ‘On the north-facing slope, potassium and calcium contents were the highest in the surface layer.’
    • ‘Avoid surface layers with high clay content because they often result in poor stands.’
    • ‘Hydrogen bonds are also responsible for water's high surface tension and specific and latent heats.’
    • ‘This partitioning will reduce the equilibrium molar fraction of cholesterol in the surface layers.’
    • ‘They suggest that surface tension does play an important role in determining recoil in emphysema.’
    • ‘The fish seem to love the surface layers at this budget-priced urban oasis with a couple of anglers getting a bite with chuck fishing casters on the drop.’
    • ‘Some objects reflect more or less light because of their surface texture or color.’
    • ‘We can observe the surface roughness and the gloss on the image.’
    • ‘When the vegetation dies, the dead biomass eventually becomes peat in the surface layer where it is subjected to decomposition.’
    • ‘Mixing takes place in the cascading surface layer as falling particles collide and are buried by later arrivals.’
    • ‘The thin alkaline soils are extremely infertile, and there is no fresh surface water.’
    • ‘Ground-source heat pumps pull energy from solar heat stored in the surface layer of the ground.’
    • ‘Surface texture is one of the more compelling features of much original art work.’
    • ‘Corn planting occurred where surface moisture conditions permitted and soil temperatures were warm enough.’
    • ‘Each of these parameters represents an attempt to characterize surface roughness with a single number.’
    • ‘Peatlands have a well-developed surface layer that has been described as having as many as six sub-units within it.’
    • ‘Then it held more surface water than a flat roof.’
    • ‘They need to know the surface roughness to control how the pill feels on the tongue.’
    • ‘He was involved in the move to deep level mining, when surface mining dried up.’
    superficial, external, exterior, outward, seeming, ostensible, apparent, cosmetic, skin deep
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Denoting ships which travel on the surface of the water as distinct from submarines:
      ‘the surface fleet’
      • ‘The most obvious of these was probably the naval combat involving both surface vessels and submarines.’
      • ‘Testing surface ships by submarines is just one of the facets of RIMPAC 04.’
      • ‘The surface ship will get underway and then we'll be ready to go.’
      • ‘Anti-submarine warfare is an area where the advantage swings between the surface fleet and the submerged boats.’
      • ‘The RAN sent surface ships Newcastle, Success and Parramatta and the submarine Rankin.’
      • ‘The only Navy left should be a fleet of submarines and a few surface ships on par with Coast Guard cutters.’
      • ‘Destroyers used to be for a long time one of the most numerous classes of surface ships.’
      • ‘On current trends, manned aircraft and big surface ships may well disappear within a few more decades.’
      • ‘Flooding in a submarine can present even more drastic problems than on a surface ship.’
      • ‘It was the second participation by a surface ship of the Royal Navy.’
      • ‘It was the first attack by a British submarine on a surface vessel since World War II.’
      • ‘I realised that it had to be a surface vessel, but could not work out how it could be so noisy at depth.’
      • ‘The primary mission of Neustrashimy Class frigates is to combat submarines and surface ships.’
      • ‘The relationship between surface fleet and submarines did not improve during the war.’
      • ‘Such ideas have predictably drawn fire from officers who see them as a threat to existing surface ship programs.’
      • ‘If he wants to be a surface ship killer, he can choose a variant that allows him to do that.’
      • ‘Any new orders could be acted on by surface ships - submarines were not in a position to get any new orders let alone act on them.’
      • ‘It would be easier to send down one of the robot vehicles, unmanned but tethered to a surface ship, with cameras and that sort of thing.’
      • ‘By 2020, as noted already, Navy surface warships might well number scarcely more than ninety.’
      • ‘It's ultimately the responsibility of the submarine to remain clear of surface vessels.’
    2. 1.2 Carried by or denoting transportation by sea or overland rather than by air:
      ‘surface mail’
      • ‘The demand from drug gangs for firearms has created a trade in cheap lethal weapons, easily imported, often even sent by surface mail.’
      • ‘And Little England gears to upgrade surface transportation in readiness for the cricket World Cup.’
      • ‘One of our suppliers despatched a small parcel to us by surface mail on September 30.’
      • ‘In the morning we will fly on to Yundum airport and take surface transportation into Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.’
      • ‘Two thousand two hundred questionnaires were distributed by e-mail, and 275 were sent by surface mail.’
      • ‘She prepared the package and sent it by surface mail because of the huge cost of postage for air mail, then we both sat back to wait.’
      • ‘Instead, users have to download and fill in a coupon and then send it via surface mail.’
      • ‘I was referring to the surface transport costs and charges study commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.’
      • ‘These included air access and regional airport ownership surface transport and estuary development.’
      • ‘We should just switch to IM-based communication, and treat email like fax or surface mail.’

verb

  • 1[no object] Rise or come up to the surface of the water or the ground:

    ‘he surfaced from his dive’
    • ‘When I surfaced, I saw Laura floating face down in the water.’
    • ‘She did an almost perfect dive into the water as well and surfaced next to him.’
    • ‘I surfaced after a night dive along the mountainous west coast of Majorca.’
    • ‘Manatees usually stay submerged for about two minutes before surfacing to breathe air.’
    • ‘Adri surfaced and wiped the water off of her face.’
    • ‘Kat leaned over and watched the water for him to surface, but it was taking too long.’
    • ‘He smiled at his wife before diving into the cool water, surfacing and glancing at Emily expectantly.’
    • ‘Thus, it is crucial to be able to anticipate where and when the whales will surface to breathe.’
    • ‘After more than six hours in the water he surfaced in excellent humour, quietly resigned to the setback.’
    • ‘I hit the water and surfaced, looking back to see Scott pointing west.’
    • ‘After surfacing from our dive there, we spotted two southern right whales.’
    • ‘When Mac surfaced from his initial dive, the worst of the chill was just beginning to dissipate.’
    • ‘Researchers on shore received the data when the whales surfaced for air.’
    • ‘It was a successful dive and I surfaced with 36 pictures.’
    come to the surface, come to the top, come up, rise
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Come to people's attention; become apparent:
      ‘the row first surfaced two years ago’
      • ‘A last-minute story has surfaced, designed apparently to damage the Bush effort for the presidency.’
      • ‘Visa problems first surfaced for PSA squash players at the US Open last December in Boston.’
      • ‘Doubts about the consciousness of animals occasionally surfaced even in classical antiquity.’
      • ‘Apologists for high tax rates are surfacing again in the media.’
      • ‘Rumors surface periodically that he's on the way out.’
      • ‘I'm sure some pictures will surface soon.’
      • ‘The students did an amazing job, and more issues and emotions surfaced in those two hours than in a semester's worth of most academic work.’
      • ‘I know that disability was an issue that surfaced quite a bit during the election campaign, and it hurt the Government parties as much as any other issue did.’
      • ‘Had they both had a chance of success, the issue might have surfaced and received the real attention which the main parties tried to stifle.’
      • ‘He could even laugh about rumors that surfaced recently on the Internet that he had died.’
      • ‘The issue first surfaced when there was that 18-18 tie after the 2001 general election.’
      • ‘Two main issues have surfaced with the presence of IM on corporate networks.’
      • ‘As a democratic ‘rule of law’ issue, it surfaces again and again.’
      • ‘Now, a new challenger has surfaced, one that apparently will not stop until it attains supremacy or is eliminated.’
      • ‘We protect ourselves by never letting these mutually exclusive beliefs surface at the same time.’
      • ‘Prejudices instilled in us long ago had surfaced with frightening force in a totally different context, many miles and several decades away from the conditions that created them.’
      • ‘The passage that I had read years ago surfaced in my mind.’
      • ‘Occasionally, nuggets of dark humour surfaced unexpectedly in an apparently innocent routine, sending a shockwave through her audience.’
      • ‘For the 62-year-old Howard, who already has served two three-year terms, those issues could not have surfaced at a better moment.’
      • ‘Allegations in respect of these conversations first surfaced at a much later date.’
      emerge, arise, appear, come to light, come up, come into sight, come into view, come out, crop up, materialize, become visible, spring up, loom
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2informal (of a person) appear after having been asleep:
      ‘it was almost 11.30 before Anthony surfaced’
      • ‘The scene was still and quiet, but all the same I had surfaced from my dreams nervously, with heavy breathing.’
      get up, get out of bed, appear, rise, wake, awaken
      View synonyms
  • 2[with object] Provide (something, especially a road) with a particular surface:

    ‘a small path surfaced with terracotta tiles’
    • ‘Mrs Mountford said the final houses had been built on the estate last September and the developer had promised to surface the roads but no progress had been made.’
    • ‘An excellent job has been done and the remainder of the slip road will be surfaced when further finance becomes available.’
    • ‘About 43 streets were surfaced in this project.’
    • ‘That underlay has now been surfaced with bitumen and chippings and has improved the structure and surface of the road.’
    • ‘Unfortunately it took several decades before even the main road through their town had been surfaced.’
    • ‘Local firm Chestnut Developments had wanted to build in the gardens and surface the unmade lane.’
    • ‘Concrete blocks to surface the roads can be constructed in a process similar to the roof tiles.’
    • ‘This will enable Ballykealey lane to be surfaced as well as the Royal Oak Road to be finished with new paths and road surface.’
    • ‘The dam was silted up because the surrounding roads had not been properly surfaced, says resident engineer Cass Bhamiee.’

Origin

Early 17th century: from French (see sur-, face), suggested by Latin superficies.

Pronunciation

surface

/ˈsəːfɪs/