Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application.
  • n. Something superficial that is used to cover a deficiency or defect.
  • adj. Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.
  • adj. Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity: cosmetic surgery.
  • adj. Decorative rather than functional: cosmetic fenders on cars.
  • adj. Lacking depth or significance; superficial: made a few cosmetic changes when she took over the company.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. External or superficial; pertaining only to the surface or appearance of something.
  • n. Any substances applied to enhance the external color or texture of the skin, e.g. lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner; makeup.
  • n. A feature existing only on the surface.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Imparting or improving beauty, particularly the beauty of the complexion.
  • n. Any external application intended to beautify and improve the complexion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to beauty; beautifying; improving beauty, particularly the beauty of the complexion. Also cosmetical.
  • n. Any preparation that renders the skin soft, pure, and white, or helps or professes to be able to help to beautify or improve the complexion.
  • n. The art of anointing or decorating the human body, as with toilet preparations, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a toiletry designed to beautify the body
  • adj. serving an esthetic rather than a useful purpose
  • adj. serving an aesthetic purpose in beautifying the body

Etymologies

French cosmétique, from Greek kosmētikos, skilled in arranging, from kosmētos, well-ordered, from kosmein, to arrange, from kosmos, order.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Ancient Greek κοσμητική (kosmetike) "the art of dress and ornament", from κοσμητής (kosmetes) "orderer, director, decorator", from κοσμέω (kosmeo) "to order, to arrange, to rule, to adorn, to equip, to dress, to embellish". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In fact, even the term cosmetic dentists was virtually new to me.

    Article Source

  • You know, irregulars, what they call cosmetic blemished items used to account for a real large percentage of what was sold at outlets.

    CNN Transcript Apr 11, 2006

  • Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, expressed support for continued protests and condemned what he called "cosmetic change" in government as an "insult to the revolution."

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • Suzanne Smith, (D-Hebron) wants the state government to regulate the use of weed and insect control products to limit what she calls cosmetic use.

    GraniteGrok

  • The fellow works closely with physicians who specialize in cosmetic surgery and with additional oculoplastic surgeons.

    Oculoplastic Fellowship

  • Interaction with different services at the Center for Human Appearance at both the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia provides an opportunity for learning "cutting edge" techniques involving concepts in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.

    Oculoplastic Fellowship

  • Officially, the FDA has this to say about the phrase: A cosmetic is considered misbranded if its safety has not adequately been substantiated, and it does not bear the following conspicuous statement on the PDP:

    Lipstick Making - Filling Containers & Labeling

  • He represents triangulation resulting in cosmetic solutions.

    Maybe Bill Is Lonely - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com

  • OASIS will initially focus on certifying ingredients used in cosmetic/personal care products but will likely branch out to include sustainable practices and packaging.

    19 posts from March 2008

  • She's an announcer on the Soap Channel, with a good voice, but bad taste in cosmetic surgery.

    Archive 2006-01-08

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