Definition of surplus in English:



  • 1An amount of something left over when requirements have been met; an excess of production or supply over demand.

    ‘exports of food surpluses’
    • ‘This meant food surpluses had to be produced at home.’
    • ‘The subsidized production and export of U.S. food surpluses to developing countries is a major cause of hunger.’
    • ‘To be sure, the commitment was to some extent self-serving, in that food programs were designed to use up the surpluses produced by American agriculture.’
    • ‘Currently none of the water stored in the reservoirs is used for irrigation, and the region enjoys a surplus of water supply.’
    • ‘The decline of ostrich farming led to a rush into grape production and a surplus of fruit.’
    • ‘In the West, a surplus of food supply has made obesity the main concern of adults, and slimness has been regarded as a symbol of health and beauty.’
    • ‘He said Indonesia did not need to import shrimp as the nation had a production surplus.’
    • ‘None of this would have been possible without the development of agriculture and the capacity to produce a surplus of food that could be supplied to a sector of the population that was no longer responsible for feeding itself.’
    • ‘After all the prizes have been met, the surplus is spent on things which will benefit all staff members, such as creating picnic and leisure areas.’
    • ‘It has already suggested that farmers could be paid for maintaining the traditional landscape rather than for producing surpluses of cheap food by intensive methods.’
    • ‘After inheriting a new classroom and curriculum, I found myself with the challenge of incorporating a huge surplus of supplies into a new class structure.’
    • ‘He said the distribution of the surplus basically amounted to a political and democratic choice.’
    • ‘Using this approach shows a large surplus of housing supply, in contrast with the Inspector's finding of a small shortfall.’
    • ‘As for food, farms are the only way to get it, but farms not only produce a surplus of food, they also support your existing army.’
    • ‘As global tobacco production increases and consumption falls in the developed countries, the production surplus will aggressively seek developing country markets.’
    • ‘One team with a surplus of pitching needs a center fielder.’
    • ‘The most important actor in the development and expansion of this global food regime has been the US, which, at the end of the Second World War, was producing large food surpluses.’
    • ‘Given the Reds' surplus of outfielders, the idea of trading Griffey is not preposterous.’
    • ‘Hunter-gatherer societies don't produce enough food surpluses to support those extra people.’
    • ‘Far from overflowing with a surplus of meaning, upon careful examination they display a deficit of meaning.’
    excess, surfeit, overabundance, superabundance, superfluity, oversupply, oversufficiency, glut, profusion, plethora
    remainder, residue, remnant
    remains, leftovers
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    1. 1.1An excess of income or assets over expenditure or liabilities in a given period, typically a fiscal year.
      ‘a trade surplus of $1.4 billion’
      • ‘West Germany was running a huge current account surplus, interest rates were low and the economy was booming.’
      • ‘He further said the narrowing surplus in the current account resulted from a narrowing surplus in the investment income account.’
      • ‘The country's large current account surplus has also continued to grow against a backdrop of steadily deteriorating global growth.’
      • ‘For 2000, the current account surplus is likely to be a record 4.4 per cent of national output.’
      • ‘Where the assets exceed the financial needs of both parties, why should the surplus belong solely to the husband?’
      • ‘The economic contraction succeeded in generating the large trade surpluses needed to make debt payments.’
      • ‘This amount would decrease the surplus to slightly more than $100,000.’
      • ‘Since the 1950s, the United States has been running an agricultural trade surplus with the rest of the world.’
      • ‘However, the full benefit only applies to surpluses in excess of €100,000.’
      • ‘The treasurer in his report showed that the finances had a surplus at the end of the year.’
      • ‘A series of deductions is made from it that tends to turn the surplus into a deficit.’
      • ‘Each year, the continent generates an export surplus of approximately five million tons.’
      • ‘State schools have suffered budget cuts as the surpluses in many state treasuries have quickly turned into nasty deficits.’
      • ‘Some have had surpluses at the end of each year.’
      • ‘Watch for government spending to rise rapidly while the surplus disappears and interest rates fall.’
      • ‘The notion that equity pre-funding financed by on-budget surpluses can increase capital accumulation buys into the fallacies that have driven policies of fiscal austerity.’
      • ‘The federal government has been running huge budget surpluses for years, with more to come.’
      • ‘One reason is that Japan has a deep domestic savings pool and a massive current-account surplus.’
      • ‘If the projected surpluses evaporated - and of course they have - the tax cuts should be suspended.’
      • ‘It has $125 million of surplus of assets over liabilities.’
    2. 1.2The excess value of a company's assets over the face value of its stock.
      • ‘For companies who need to commit resources a long while in advance in order to meet consumers' needs, an accurate understanding of the market environment is crucial if stock surpluses and shortages are to be avoided.’


  • 1More than what is needed or used; excess.

    ‘make the most of your surplus cash’
    • ‘Profits were boosted by lower costs and the money it earned on the surplus cash.’
    • ‘If the invested money yields high enough returns, they can pay off their mortgage early or have surplus cash.’
    • ‘The drive for surplus value motivated employers to extend as well as intensify work.’
    • ‘He added that any surplus cash is reclaimed by Westminster and given to other organisations that are short of money.’
    • ‘Even some smaller Japanese companies with surplus cash and low debt loads aren't necessarily interested in shareholder value.’
    • ‘Moreover, there is increased competition from other products that means that consumers now decide whether to spend their surplus cash on a CD or DVD, for instance.’
    • ‘Farms with that much surplus income have a tremendous advantage in positioning themselves to become even more competitive.’
    • ‘Maybe I'm not seeing them, but are there any policies that don't involve splashing the surplus cash around?’
    • ‘In other words, there was a huge reservoir of surplus capacity in the United States.’
    • ‘We'd never encourage people to keep surplus funds in their current account.’
    • ‘We are being just as bad as schools who have surplus cash if we're not going to use it.’
    • ‘The surplus cash remaining after the purchase of a more compact residence could be used for living expenses, or a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.’
    • ‘The statement said the loan would be serviced from surplus cash derived principally from hotel operations.’
    • ‘Some banks with surplus cash distribute money to their neighbours.’
    • ‘At the same time, the US working day is becoming more intense as surplus labor grows.’
    • ‘Capital grows and expands through the appropriation of surplus labour from the working class.’
    • ‘However, the first use for surplus cash must be to reduce any outstanding debts.’
    • ‘Whenever I do have a little surplus cash - not very often may I add - my inclination would be to invest in art.’
    • ‘The rate of surplus value is given by the ratio of these two components.’
    excess, excessive, in excess, leftover, left, unused, remaining, extra, additional, reserve, spare
    superfluous, redundant, unwanted, unneeded, not required, uncalled for, dispensable, disposable, expendable, useless
    de trop
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Denoting a store selling excess or out-of-date military equipment or clothing.
      ‘she had picked up her boots in an army surplus store’
      • ‘Larry hustled off to the surplus store and bought 45 weather balloons and several large tanks of helium.’
      • ‘It's actually sort of a surplus store for paper.’
      • ‘‘That's not the sort of thing you pick up at a military surplus store,’ he added.’
      • ‘They find themselves scrounging from surplus stores and designing around what's available.’
      • ‘Grenade pouches that are sold at military surplus stores work, too.’
      • ‘You can go to the military surplus store and get excellent dress black for a dollar or two.’
      • ‘With its full automatic capability, the M14 was never offered for military surplus sale.’
      • ‘This was during the early '60s, when the military surplus boom was in full swing.’
      • ‘Butler explains that Keefe discovered it in an educational surplus store.’
      • ‘Using military surplus equipment like smoke grenades, searchlights, and small airplanes, the FWS herded the birds back into the refuges.’
      • ‘As soon as the war ended, surplus equipment started being sold on the streets of New York.’
      • ‘It's big, dark, and smells as dank and musty as you'd expect of a place that's piled from floor to ceiling with stack after stack of surplus military clothing.’
      • ‘Military surplus gear, from camouflage clothing to boots and whatnots, make up a large part of his non-gun-related sales.’
      • ‘I thought the surplus store would have them, but they only carry white, black, green and camos.’


Late Middle English: from Old French sourplus, from medieval Latin superplus, from super- in addition + plus more.