over, above

Quick Summary

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The prefix super- and its variant sur- mean “over.” Examples using this prefix include superior, supervise, surname, and surface. An easy way to remember that the prefix super- means “over” is through the comic book hero Superman, who is the man “over” all other men in terms of physical power.

Superman Surpasses All Superheroes

Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The prefix super- and its variant sur- mean “over.”

We all know that the DC Comics hero Superman is the hero who stands “over” all other men in power. He is the superstar in the DC Comics line of heroes, or the star that stands “over” other heroic stars, such as Batman and Wonder Woman. Speaking of superstars, the football game that stands “over” all other football games is, you got it, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl features the superior teams from the AFC and the NFC divisions facing off against each other, that is, the two teams that stood “over” all the rest during the football season.

School systems love to have members of management who stand “over” all others, such as superintendents, who are in charge of entire school systems. They supervise, or watch “over” the schools in their respective districts.

A variant of the prefix super-, which also means “above,” is the morpheme sur-. For instance, a surname is that name which is “over” a family and thereby identifies it, or the family’s last name. The surface of something is etymologically the face that lies “over” what it’s covering. When you surpass everyone else’s SAT scores at your school, you pass “over” them all, thus getting the highest score. One who takes a survey of people wants to look “over” what they think. And have you ever been hit with a surcharge on your cell phone bill, those sneaky little charges that go “over” what you are supposed to pay? Sometimes you’d like to hit those kinds of charges “over” the head!

Now that you have been surrounded with superlative examples of words which contain the prefixes super- and sur-, you will never again have to look those words “over” twice before knowing what they mean. That’s just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

  1. Superman: man ‘over’ all others
  2. superstar: star ‘over’ all other sports or music stars
  3. Super Bowl: football game ‘over’ all others
  4. superintendent: administrator ‘over’ an entire school system
  5. supervisor: one who watches ‘over’ others
  6. surname: name ‘over’ all in a family
  7. surface: layer lying ‘over’ something
  8. surpass: to pass ‘over’ others
  9. survey: look ‘over’ something
  10. surcharge: charge which is ‘over’ and ‘above’ a stated fee
  11. surround: a wave ‘over’ something that engulfs it
  12. superlative: of carrying ‘over’ and ‘above’


  • superimpose

    If two things are superimposed, one is stacked over the other so that both become one.

  • supercilious

    If you behave in a supercilious way, you act as if you were more important or better than everyone else.

  • superfluous

    Something that is superfluous is unnecessary; it is more than what is wanted or needed at the current time.

  • superannuated

    Something that is superannuated is so old and worn out that it is no longer working or useful.

  • superficial

    A person or subject that is superficial is shallow, without depth, obvious, and concerned only with surface matters.

  • superlative

    A superlative deed or act is excellent, outstanding, or the best of its kind.

  • supersede

    When something supersedes another thing, it takes the place of or succeeds it.

  • sovereign

    A sovereign nation rules itself, independent of all other nations.

  • insuperable

    That which is insuperable, such as a barrier or challenge, is not able to be overcome, surpassed, or dealt with.

  • supererogatory

    Supererogatory effort is above and beyond that which is expected or asked for.

  • supernumerary

    A supernumerary amount of something is an extra or additional amount of it.

  • superb

    of surpassing excellence

  • superfluity

    extreme excess

  • superintendent

    a person who directs and manages an organization

  • superior

    of high or superior quality or performance

  • superman

    a person with great powers and abilities

  • supermodel

    a fashion model who has attained the status of a celebrity

  • supernal

    being or coming from on high

  • supernatural

    not existing in nature or subject to explanation according to natural laws

  • superstar

    someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field

  • supervise

    watch and direct

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