What's in a Word?
There is No Super, Or Very Little

The use of the word super has become so commonplace that people do not realize it has lost its meaning as a superlative. Let’s see how many definitions you agree with.

Supermarket. What is so super about a supermarket? Nothing. Yes, I know that prior to the innovation of a market that customers choose their own products, there were markets where the customer would wait as a clerk brought the desired products to him or her. So there was the change in behavior and organization. And the modern market is large, spacious, and with innumerable choices. But now it is simply commonplace. There are no old-fashioned markets left except in rare instances. So what is so super about supermarkets?

Supermodel. These are models. Nothing more, nothing less. These days highly paid models with worldwide reputations are deemed supermodels. But they are simply models with nothing more than celebrity attention attached. There is nothing super about them.

Superathletes. These are sports figures making too much money just before going bankrupt.

Superhighway. A highway. Probably deemed super only because of two reasons: too expensive, and too disruptive to the people who live adjacent to it. Nothing super about it.

Superabsorbent. Something that absorbs, except harmful chemicals have been added. Likely only super in its harmful effects on the body.

Superagency. Pyramid scheme by government bureaucrats to make larger agencies by hostile takeovers of other bureaucrats. Nothing super about it.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Original definition is “something to say when you have nothing to say”. Without the super, it’s a plain old califragilisticexpialidocious. Very un-super.

Supercollider. Full employment conspiracy for colliding physicists.

Supercomputer. A computer with too many parts.

Superconductivity. Something that doesn’t know how to conduct itself properly, so is given the prefix super.

Superego. The monster from the depths of the soul that attempts to control humanity.

Superficial. So what’s a ficial? Since the super part implies something beyond the normal, then ficial would seem to be the real, the essence of something. So does official mean “of the real”? Nah…

Superfluous. Fluous originated from the concept of flowing. So superfluous is about overflow. Not super, just too much.

Superfood. A normal food item that has been made into a celebrity.

Superintendent. Probably the only real super there is. Super + intend, where intend means to take care of something.

What is super for you?

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