Above, over, or beyond; great or large; of a higher kind.
[Latin super, above, beyond.]
Though a number of words have been imported from Latin with this prefix already attached, most have been formed in English, particularly because it has become a popular way of forming superlatives in recent decades.
The most common sense refers to something having greater influence, capability or power than another of its kind, or exhibiting some quality to a greater degree: superabundant, superbug, supercharger, supercomputer, superconductor, supercool, superfluid, superglue, superhero, superman, supermodel, superpower, superstar, superwoman.
Other examples suggest something extra large of its kind: supercontinent, supermarket, superstore, supertanker. Some imply a position or status above or beyond another: superstructure, supersonic, supernatural, superscript, superstratum, supertitles. In systematic classifications of the living world, it indicates a higher level, as in superfamily, superclass, and superorder. In chemistry, it is occasionally used to suggest an element is in greater proportion than usual: superoxide.
Examples in which the prefix was attached in Latin have often lost a direct reference to such senses in English, though sometimes it peeps through: supercilious (cilium, eyelid, so linked to the idea of someone raising his eyebrows), superficial (facies, face, originally something associated with the surface, hence its outward appearance), superior (superus, that is above), superlative (latus, carried, so a person or thing borne above others), and supervise (videre, to see, therefore to ‘look over’ another's work).