Definition of superman in US English:



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

    • ‘It was one of the worst cases of special effects regression since the lesser known of the Supermen movies.’
    • ‘Let's play fashion expert for a second and compare the new Superman to the old-school Supermen.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘He's Superman in black, with no Kryptonite in sight.’
    • ‘Yeah, there's a Superman graphic novel that's being drawn right now.’
    • ‘They make Superman look geriatric and Batman slow to go.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘It was kind of a combination of Superman, Batman, Santa Claus, and a rock band.’
    • ‘Superheroes Batman and Superman are set to go head to head in a new movie.’
    • ‘The songs are B-side forgettables and the plot might have been written for a Superman comic 15 years after anyone gave a damn.’
    • ‘But Superman moved away from Smallville, you say.’
    • ‘I grew up on Daredevil and Iron Man and Spider-Man and Batman and Superman and The Hulk.’
    • ‘With its mix of traditionalism, inventiveness, and healthy respect for the mythology, this is a Superman for all seasons.’
    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
    • ‘Long years ago, at the very beginning of my writing career, I attacked Nietzsche and his superman idea.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’’


Late 19th century (in superman (sense 2)): from super- ‘exceptional’ + man, coined in imitation of German Übermensch (used by Nietzsche).