Definition of surface in US English:

surface

noun

  • 1The outside part or uppermost layer of something (often used when describing its texture, form, or extent)

    ‘the earth's surface’
    ‘poor road surfaces’
    • ‘The rover could reach the Martian surface as early as Wednesday morning.’
    • ‘The road surface had become uneven with potholes and poor camber.’
    • ‘Care should be taken not to scratch the smooth surface of the bat.’
    • ‘On sunny days, scratch the soil surface and examine debris to see if worms are hiding under it.’
    • ‘Where road surfaces were particularly poor it is possible that horseback may have been preferred.’
    • ‘City of York Council chiefs said the work had to be done because the road surface was in such poor condition.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Mulching is a simple process of covering the soil surface with materials to prevent direct evaporation of soil moisture.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tyres fail to grip when brakes are applied and contact with the road surface is poor.’
    • ‘When the stigma lobes spread out, this pollen is then deposited on the inner stigmatic surface.’
    • ‘However, under Irish conditions, it is handicapped by its inability to cope with poor road surfaces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Uneven road surfaces stressed the joint where the lead trailer attached to the truck, and weakened the frame.’
    • ‘On the inside they found that it looked much like the outside surface.’
    • ‘A survey of 2,200 drivers showed that one in three suffered mood changes blaming the weather, tiredness or even poor road surfaces.’
    • ‘The local authority will also have to take more responsibility for poor quality road surfaces and signs in the town.’
    • ‘A little over 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water.’
    • ‘Outside, non-transparent surfaces are clad in copper.’
    • ‘This results in very fine handling and roadholding and on poor road surfaces, the suspension gave a truly mature ride.’
    outside, exterior
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The level top of something.
      ‘roll out the dough on a floured surface’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Add just enough flour to the rolling surface to keep the dough from sticking.’
      • ‘Level surfaces for push-ups, burpees and crunches are also abundant.’
      • ‘Using a small spoon, sprinkle the surface with sago flour.’
      • ‘Slab sawing, flat sawing and floor sawing are done on reasonably level surfaces.’
      • ‘All you need to provide is a level surface, a power supply and about £7,000.’
      • ‘It was important for the candle to sit on a level surface and not turn over when it was lit.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In each case, when it came time to start rolling, I first lightly floured the rolling surface.’
      • ‘Creating a flat, smooth surface is a skill that some finishers develop quickly, while others never do.’
      • ‘Make sure to position barbecues on firm, level surfaces before starting to cook and never carry or move a lit barbecue.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Set the peel on a level surface and dust with about 2 tbsp of cornmeal.’
      • ‘Simple single-basin distillers work best on flat, level surfaces, and can be constructed fairly easily.’
      • ‘Turn out the mixture on to a surface lightly dusted with flour and shape into a round of about 2.5cm thick.’
      • ‘Lay the ladder down on its side on a level surface, then park the mower right on top of the ladder legs.’
      • ‘Her father had saved it since the smooth, flat surface was still workable.’
      • ‘Knead it by hand a couple of times on a flat, floured surface.’
      • ‘What's the advice that books always give after they tell you to lightly flour your baking surface?’
      worktop, top, working top, work surface, counter, table, stand, horizontal surface
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The area of such an outer part or uppermost layer.
      ‘the surface area of a cube’
      • ‘Untouched wild places have now shrunk to one-sixth of the Earth's land surface.’
    3. 1.3in singular The upper limit of a body of liquid.
      ‘fish floating on the surface of the water’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although they are rather tough, the bulk of the plant is limited to the water surface.’
      • ‘The blue light flashed across the water's surface, turning her body different shades of blues and aquas.’
      • ‘The surface of a pond represents mental possibility, everything you imagine you could attain.’
      • ‘Most of the pictorial interest here is concentrated in the reflective surface of the water.’
      • ‘Why can we see beneath water whereas the ray of vision reflects off opaque bodies and the surface of water is opaque?’
      • ‘Then her gaze shifted to the insects that were skimming the surface of the water like it was glass.’
      • ‘Avoid installing directly under trees where leaves will clutter the surface of the pond.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is universally understood that heaving a major portion of your body over the surface of the water is a tough thing to do.’
      • ‘However, if it rains, then the surface of their pond becomes rippled.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4in singular What is apparent on a casual view or consideration of someone or something, especially as distinct from feelings or qualities that are not immediately obvious.
      ‘Tom was a womanizer, but on the surface he remained respectable’
      as modifier ‘we need to go beyond surface appearances’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One moves on, yet the pains and joys remain below the surface for years and cannot really be discussed.’
      • ‘The rage that sits just below the surface of civil society comes closest to the skin at the front lines of retail.’
      • ‘What distinguished many of the Young British Artists was their reluctance to probe beyond the surface of appearance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's only because of this carefree approach to life that this crime-ridden society appears on the surface to be normal.’
      • ‘Part of its success is what lies below the surface of society.’
      • ‘It's just a metaphor for self-awareness and seeing what's beyond the surface.’
      • ‘The camera never tries to go beyond the surface, leaving that to the audience.’
      • ‘Both see the lasting truth beneath the surface of mere outward appearance.’
      • ‘Young artists of this era rarely try to get the gist of their times by describing surface appearances.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For him, enlightenment can be attained with a simple cruise along the surface of appearance.’
      • ‘This difference is the source of surplus value, which appears on the surface of society in the form of profit, interest and rent.’
      • ‘We peer deep beneath the surface of appearances, and far into the cosmic past.’
      • ‘Obviously violence is there just under the surface in every society.’
      • ‘On the surface, the obvious answer seems to be affirmative.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gillian's character, Lady Dedlock, is a society beauty and on the surface appears icy cool.’
      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.

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

adjective

  • 1attributive Relating to or occurring on the upper or outer part of something.

    ‘surface workers at the copper mines’
    • ‘Mixing takes place in the cascading surface layer as falling particles collide and are buried by later arrivals.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was involved in the move to deep level mining, when surface mining dried up.’
    • ‘The thin alkaline soils are extremely infertile, and there is no fresh surface water.’
    • ‘We can observe the surface roughness and the gloss on the image.’
    • ‘Each of these parameters represents an attempt to characterize surface roughness with a single number.’
    • ‘Once depressions are full, there will be more surface runoff because of the slower infiltration rate.’
    • ‘Surface texture is one of the more compelling features of much original art work.’
    • ‘Hydrogen bonds are also responsible for water's high surface tension and specific and latent heats.’
    • ‘When the vegetation dies, the dead biomass eventually becomes peat in the surface layer where it is subjected to decomposition.’
    • ‘Corn planting occurred where surface moisture conditions permitted and soil temperatures were warm enough.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They suggest that surface tension does play an important role in determining recoil in emphysema.’
    • ‘Then it held more surface water than a flat roof.’
    • ‘Some objects reflect more or less light because of their surface texture or color.’
    • ‘They need to know the surface roughness to control how the pill feels on the tongue.’
    • ‘This partitioning will reduce the equilibrium molar fraction of cholesterol in the surface layers.’
    • ‘Peatlands have a well-developed surface layer that has been described as having as many as six sub-units within it.’
    • ‘Ground-source heat pumps pull energy from solar heat stored in the surface layer of the ground.’
    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’
      • ‘Destroyers used to be for a long time one of the most numerous classes of surface ships.’
      • ‘The most obvious of these was probably the naval combat involving both surface vessels and submarines.’
      • ‘The surface ship will get underway and then we'll be ready to go.’
      • ‘It was the second participation by a surface ship of the Royal Navy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘By 2020, as noted already, Navy surface warships might well number scarcely more than ninety.’
      • ‘Testing surface ships by submarines is just one of the facets of RIMPAC 04.’
      • ‘Flooding in a submarine can present even more drastic problems than on a surface ship.’
      • ‘Anti-submarine warfare is an area where the advantage swings between the surface fleet and the submerged boats.’
      • ‘The only Navy left should be a fleet of submarines and a few surface ships on par with Coast Guard cutters.’
      • ‘I realised that it had to be a surface vessel, but could not work out how it could be so noisy at depth.’
      • ‘The relationship between surface fleet and submarines did not improve during the war.’
      • ‘On current trends, manned aircraft and big surface ships may well disappear within a few more decades.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The RAN sent surface ships Newcastle, Success and Parramatta and the submarine Rankin.’
      • ‘The primary mission of Neustrashimy Class frigates is to combat submarines and surface ships.’
      • ‘It was the first attack by a British submarine on a surface vessel since World War II.’
      • ‘It's ultimately the responsibility of the submarine to remain clear of surface vessels.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 Carried by or denoting transportation by sea or overland as contrasted with by air.
      ‘surface mail’
      • ‘Two thousand two hundred questionnaires were distributed by e-mail, and 275 were sent by surface mail.’
      • ‘One of our suppliers despatched a small parcel to us by surface mail on September 30.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We should just switch to IM-based communication, and treat email like fax or 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.’
      • ‘These included air access and regional airport ownership surface transport and estuary development.’
      • ‘Instead, users have to download and fill in a coupon and then send it via surface mail.’
      • ‘In the morning we will fly on to Yundum airport and take surface transportation into Banjul, the capital of The Gambia.’
      • ‘I was referring to the surface transport costs and charges study commissioned by the Ministry of Transport.’

verb

  • 1no object Rise or come up to the surface of the water or the ground.

    ‘he surfaced from his dive’
    • ‘When Mac surfaced from his initial dive, the worst of the chill was just beginning to dissipate.’
    • ‘She did an almost perfect dive into the water as well and surfaced next to him.’
    • ‘Kat leaned over and watched the water for him to surface, but it was taking too long.’
    • ‘Researchers on shore received the data when the whales surfaced for air.’
    • ‘After more than six hours in the water he surfaced in excellent humour, quietly resigned to the setback.’
    • ‘Adri surfaced and wiped the water off of her face.’
    • ‘It was a successful dive and I surfaced with 36 pictures.’
    • ‘I hit the water and surfaced, looking back to see Scott pointing west.’
    • ‘Thus, it is crucial to be able to anticipate where and when the whales will surface to breathe.’
    • ‘He smiled at his wife before diving into the cool water, surfacing and glancing at Emily expectantly.’
    • ‘Manatees usually stay submerged for about two minutes before surfacing to breathe air.’
    • ‘I surfaced after a night dive along the mountainous west coast of Majorca.’
    • ‘After surfacing from our dive there, we spotted two southern right whales.’
    • ‘When I surfaced, I saw Laura floating face down in the water.’
    come to the surface, come to the top, come up, rise
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Come to people's attention; become apparent.
      ‘the quarrel first surfaced two years ago’
      • ‘We protect ourselves by never letting these mutually exclusive beliefs surface at the same time.’
      • ‘Occasionally, nuggets of dark humour surfaced unexpectedly in an apparently innocent routine, sending a shockwave through her audience.’
      • ‘I'm sure some pictures will surface soon.’
      • ‘Allegations in respect of these conversations first surfaced at a much later date.’
      • ‘As a democratic ‘rule of law’ issue, it surfaces again and again.’
      • ‘He could even laugh about rumors that surfaced recently on the Internet that he had died.’
      • ‘Apologists for high tax rates are surfacing again in the media.’
      • ‘Two main issues have surfaced with the presence of IM on corporate networks.’
      • ‘The issue first surfaced when there was that 18-18 tie after the 2001 general election.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Now, a new challenger has surfaced, one that apparently will not stop until it attains supremacy or is eliminated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For the 62-year-old Howard, who already has served two three-year terms, those issues could not have surfaced at a better moment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Rumors surface periodically that he's on the way out.’
      • ‘A last-minute story has surfaced, designed apparently to damage the Bush effort for the presidency.’
      • ‘The passage that I had read years ago surfaced in my mind.’
      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 noon 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
  • 2usually be surfacedwith object Provide (something, especially a road) with a particular upper or outer layer.

    ‘a small path surfaced with terra-cotta 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.’
    • ‘This will enable Ballykealey lane to be surfaced as well as the Royal Oak Road to be finished with new paths and road surface.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That underlay has now been surfaced with bitumen and chippings and has improved the structure and surface of the road.’
    • ‘About 43 streets were surfaced in this project.’
    • ‘The dam was silted up because the surrounding roads had not been properly surfaced, says resident engineer Cass Bhamiee.’
    • ‘Unfortunately it took several decades before even the main road through their town had been surfaced.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

surface

/ˈsərfəs//ˈsərfəs/