Definition of superstructure in US English:



  • 1A structure built on top of something else.

    • ‘The British style is more careful and thorough, with the foundation work in sources revealed as proudly as any part of the superstructure.’
    • ‘Despite our lack of information about the superstructures of the nearby tombs (lining the Via Labicana and adjacent to Eurysaces' monument), we know that Eurysaces' tomb had to contend with at least one of his neighbors.’
    • ‘Their chief worth, however, is the influence they had on Islamic architecture in terms of short squat pillars used to support the superstructure above.’
    • ‘An engineer who designs the superstructure for a bridge or the frame of an automobile invests time in understanding how things will break.’
    • ‘Add to this the fact that superstructures can be altered or replaced entirely, allowing a mask to be updated while keeping the same substructure.’
    • ‘Here the physical presence of the motorway is unavoidable as its superstructure looms over the building, but sail-like uplighters bounce and diffuse light up through the tall volume.’
    • ‘They consist of a human or animal face attached to a large, bulging superstructure or headdress that is painted with elaborate patterns.’
    • ‘In temples and palaces it may be used as a free-standing figure or be incorporated into columns supporting the roof or, for smaller-scale figures, appear as a support or superstructure for lidded wooden bowls.’
    • ‘There are three distinct parts to the building, the most visible being an articulated tented superstructure of taut fabric and cables and bristling masts.’
    1. 1.1 The parts of a ship, other than masts and rigging, built above its hull and main deck.
      • ‘At that distance you could only see the superstructures.’
      • ‘Paired with the Labors of Adam and Eve in the British Library and Huntington Library Speculum books is an image of Noah's ark, a bargelike vessel with a basilican superstructure beneath a dove with outstretched wings.’
      • ‘Up close are jungle-top toucans, and perhaps a sloth; further away, ship superstructures appear to part the steaming foliage as they glide slowly along the canal.’
      • ‘It's possible to precast columns, column caps (also called bent caps), girders and beams, decks, complete bridge sub- or superstructures, complete bridge spans, and complete bridges.’
      • ‘Like the boats in all these paintings, it's just a hull, without masts or any kind of superstructure, adrift and empty, a kind of ghost ship.’
      • ‘The 4,600t ship will have five decks and two superstructures.’
    2. 1.2 The part of a building above its foundations.
      • ‘The building comprises 18 superstructure stories and two basement levels.’
      • ‘Due to the size, weight and cost of large buildings, testing the substructure's ability to carry the superstructure, becomes imperative.’
      • ‘Iron superstructures about thirty feet high were erected above Greenwich Street and 9th Avenue, and the passenger cars were pulled by a cable connected to a steam powered generator at the terminus.’
      • ‘In plan, the superstructure of the building consists of three zones.’
      • ‘The base, below ground level, is in-situ concrete, but the superstructure above the cross-aisle is prefabricated.’
      • ‘The main superstructure frame is formed from reinforced concrete with post-tensioned, ribbed slab floors.’
      • ‘Brick superstructures would no longer do, and it soon became the norm to have double walls with all-stone inner and outer faces, bonded by a rubble fill, with increasingly elaborate defensive structures around the gates.’
    3. 1.3 A concept or idea based on others.
      • ‘Certainly the dismantling of received superstructures of knowledge, driven by the engines of critique and systematic skepticism, suggests that these days almost anything goes.’
    4. 1.4 (in Marxist theory) the institutions and culture considered to result from or reflect the economic system underlying a society.
      • ‘How far do the demands of the capitalist economy shape the political and cultural superstructure?’
      • ‘So the matrix is the ideological apparatus, the artifice of reification - the superstructure, seen from the outside to be the evidence of the alienation of man's labour-power.’
      • ‘A socialist critic who focuses on the reciprocity between infrastructure and superstructure would argue back that modes of cultural representation cannot but be saturated with the material base of the society.’
      • ‘Behind all the superstructures of purchase, market, and private property, there is always the mechanism of social prestation which must be recognized in our choice, our accumulation, our manipulation and our consumption of objects.’
      • ‘The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society - the real foundation, on which rise legal and political superstructures and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.’