Word of the Day Archive
Tuesday September 23, 2003
supernumerary \soo-puhr-NOO-muh-rair-ee; -NYOO-\ , adjective:
1. Exceeding the stated, standard, or prescribed number.
2. Exceeding what is necessary or desired; superfluous.
1. A supernumerary person or thing.
2. An actor without a speaking part, as a walk-on or an extra in a crowd scene.
The Justice Department contractor, the Biogenics Corporation, of Houston, studied blood samples from thirty-six residents and concluded that eight of the people had a rare aberration it called "supernumerary acentric fragments," or extra pieces of genetic material.
-- Michael H. Brown, "A Toxic Ghost Town", The Atlantic, July 1989
Momart is where private collections are put out to pasture, where works that are too big, too precious, too fragile or simply supernumerary to their owners' homes are discreetly tended by expert staff.
-- Laura Cumming, "What the Sensationalists did next", The Observer, April 23, 2000
And yet, important as its role has been in the history of civilization, the bookshelf seldom even gets mentioned in the program; it is treated as a supernumerary, taken for granted, and ignored.
-- Henry Petroski, The Book on the Bookshelf
Sweetums, the Swiss chef and many others serve principally as supernumeraries in the picture's extravagant production numbers.
-- Rita Kempley, "Seeworthy Muppets", Washington Post, February 16, 1995
Supernumerary is from Latin supernumerarius, from super, "over" + numerus, "number."