super

Definitions

General English

Aviation

  • prefix
    (written as super-)
    more than normal

Cars & Driving

  • noun petrol with a high octane rating, typically 98

Computing

  • prefix
    (written as super-)
    very good or very powerful

Construction

Information & Library Science

  • prefix
    (written as super-)
    combining with adjectives to suggest that something is of very high quality

Media Studies

  • noun something superimposed onto a picture
  • noun a starched cotton gauze fabric that is used to strengthen the bindings of books
  • noun a character generator such as an Aston.

Medical

  • prefix
    (written as super-)
    extremely

Publishing

  • noun thick gauze used to make the hinge between the boards and the book block

Origin & History of “super”

Super has been used over the centuries as an abbreviated form of a variety of English words containing the Latin element super ‘above’. Its earliest manifestation, short for the now defunct insuper ‘balance left over’, did not last long and it was the 19th century which really saw an explosion in the use of the word. In 1807 it appeared as an abbreviation for the chemical term supersalt, and in the 1850s its long career as an ‘extra person’ (short for supernumerary (17th c.)) began. Its application to superintendant (16th c.), today its commonest noun usage, dates from around 1870. But it is as an adjective that it has made its greatest impact. In this context it is short for superfine (15th c.), and originally, in the mid 19th century, its use was restricted to denoting the ‘highest grade of goods’ (‘showing me a roll of cloth which he said was extra super’, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield 1850); not until the early 20th century did it really begin to come into its own as a general term of approval.

Amongst the more heavily disguised English descendants of Latin super (a relative of Latin sub ‘below’ and also of English sum and supine) are insuperable (14th c.), soprano (18th c.), soubrette (18th c.), and sovereign. And superior (14th c.) comes from the Latin comparative form superior ‘higher’.
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