American English

Definition of surface noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable] the outside or top layer of something an uneven road surface We need a flat surface to play this game on. Teeth have a hard surface layer called enamel. a broad leaf with a large surface area
  2. 2[countable, usually singular] the top layer of an area of water or land the earth's surface These plants float on the surface of the water. We could see fish swimming just below the surface.
  3. 3[countable] the flat upper part of a piece of furniture, that is used for working on a work surface She cleaned all the kitchen surfaces. You'll need a large smooth surface for rolling out the pastry.
  4. 4[singular] the outer appearance of a person, thing, or situation; the qualities that you see or notice, that are not hidden Rage bubbled just below the surface of his mind.
  5. Idioms
    on the surface
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    when not thought about deeply or thoroughly; when not looked at carefully It seems like a good idea on the surface, but there will no doubt be problems. On the surface, he appeared unchanged.
    scratch the surface (of something)
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    to deal with, understand, or find out about only a small part of a subject or problem We left feeling that we had just scratched the surface of this fascinating country.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: surface