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[koz-met-ik] /kɒzˈmɛt ɪk/
a powder, lotion, lipstick, rouge, or other preparation for beautifying the face, skin, hair, nails, etc.
cosmetics, superficial measures to make something appear better, more attractive, or more impressive:
The budget committee opted for cosmetics instead of a serious urban renewal plan.
serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face.
used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive, or more impressive:
Alterations in the concert hall were only cosmetic and did nothing to improve the acoustics.
Origin of cosmetic
1595-1605; < Greek kosmētikós relating to adornment, equivalent to kosmēt(ós) adorned, arranged (verbid of kosmeîn, derivative of kósmos order, arrangement) + -ikos -ic
Related forms
cosmetically, adverb
anticosmetics, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cosmetic
  • Some of her patients had previously worn dust masks colored with cosmetic foundation.
  • Hair tonics, perfumes, toilet waters and other cosmetic products were similarly exempt.
  • Species found in the deep sea are used as additives in cosmetic products and also in food.
  • It had everything under one roof, from a gourmet grocery to high-end clothing and cosmetic boutiques.
  • Change, on the right, is more a matter of cosmetic surgery.
  • But unlike cosmetic surgery, genetic enhancement is more than skin-deep.
  • The quickest fix for a brand in trouble, some say, is nothing more than a cosmetic makeover.
  • Maybe they really did feel incomplete without cosmetic surgery.
  • Ivan told me about the cosmetic treatments and cures that he's got in mind for regularly scheduled sessions in the future.
  • No educated experimental work with the goal of restoring natural balance is a cosmetic surrender to the unknown.
British Dictionary definitions for cosmetic


any preparation applied to the body, esp the face, with the intention of beautifying it
serving or designed to beautify the body, esp the face
having no other function than to beautify: cosmetic illustrations in a book
(derogatory) designed to cover up a greater flaw or deficiency; superficial: their resignation is a cosmetic exercise
Derived Forms
cosmetically, adverb
cosmeticology, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Greek kosmētikos, from kosmein to arrange, from kosmos order
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cosmetic

c.1600, "art of beautifying," from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhne) "the art of dress and ornament," from fem. of kosmetikos (see cosmetic (adj.)). Meaning "a preparation for beautifying" attested from 1640s (now often cosmetics).


1640s, from French cosmétique (16c.), from Greek kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order" (see cosmos). Figurative sense of "superficial" is from 1955. Related: Cosmetically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cosmetic in Medicine

cosmetic cos·met·ic (kŏz-mět'ĭk)
A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application. adj.

  1. Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.

  2. Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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