I have run across this site many times and it's helped quite a bit. So enough preambling

I'm looking for a singular word that essentially means

To add something which isn't necessary but is still there and which is not part of a redundancy. I keep on thinking superfluous but that doesnt seem to work.

Superfluous basically means obsolete (that it worked at one stage but no longer.I'm just looking for something that's just not strictly necessary to functioning but included nonetheless.

The only way I can describe the word that I'm looking for is akin to junk DNA. It's there but it's not necessary to functioning. And no I don't think it would be redundant because that infers a backup in case of failure

Strange question I know


8 Answers 8


How about embellishment?


embellish: to make beautiful with ornamentation; to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details

embellishment: something serving to embellish; ornament

Embellishments are often considered unnecessary or inessential to functioning, like the hood ornament on a Rolls Royce.

Edit: Another possibility is extraneous.

From M-W:

extraneous: not forming an essential or vital part; having no relevance

Presumably, junk DNA is extraneous (although no one added it; it just worked out that way over time).

  • Perhaps. But doesn't that mean to add something on as a means of beautifying it though?
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 18:58
  • @Martin Yes, but embellishments are often considered unnecessary or inessential to functioning, like the hood ornament on a Rolls Royce. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 19:01
  • Could that then presumably mean "addition without function". It's there but not necessary? If so then that could be the word I'm looking for
    – Martin
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 19:34
  • @Martin Yes, it could. You ask someone a question, and they provide the answer (maybe), along with a lot of extraneous (unnecessary, irrelevant) information. It's not the same as superfluous. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 19:41

A terrific, highfalutin word for that is

supererogatory adj
1. going beyond the requirements of duty.
2. greater than that required or needed; superfluous.

TFD Online

You will usually hear this said in a derogatory (same root) manner, implying that something is pretentious, done only to impress without possessing any real utility or merit.


You have rejected 'redundant' because you say it implies backup in case of failure. It can mean that, particularly in systems design as in the provision of redundant capacity for a circuit, duplexing a server or using hard drives in parallel (the acronym RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks after all), but it can also mean unnecessary or no longer necessary.

The most familiar sense of "redundancy" to many people is that of people becoming unemployed because their job is no longer needed due to cutbacks, automation, the closure of a place of work (sometimes because production has been moved to another country) or the failure of the employing company. In this case making a person "redundant" means that that person's contribution is no longer necessary to the employing organisation.

You mention 'junk' DNA which is so called because, as it does not code for proteins, it was once thought to have no function (geneticists are identifying functions for much junk DNA now) but even under the old view of junk DNA there was a theory that it once had a function that was no longer being carried out, therefore it was redundant.

It is also possible to add redundant functionality to a product. An example would be the inclusion of a circuit and screen which does nothing but display a complicated pattern of lights at power up in a purely practical item like a refrigerator when a simple LED would do. The inclusion of washing machines in the 'internet of things' seems like redundancy to many people.

There may be those who consider that there is redundancy in this answer since I seem to have gone on at length, but these wider definitions of "redundancy" seem to fit your requirements perfectly.



to introduce as an addition over or above something already existing.


  • This has the makings of a good answer; clear and precise. Can you please add a reference so it also adheres to site policy?
    – Bookeater
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 12:48
  • merriam-webster.com/dictionary/superinduce Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 14:35
  • I added your reference to the post. And also put in an up-vote. Sadly your entry also already attracted a down-vote...
    – Bookeater
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 14:39

I guess you may be looking for Trivial:


  1. of very little importance or value; insignificant
  2. commonplace; ordinary
  3. (mathematics) Of, relating to, or being the simplest possible case
  4. (mathematics) Self-evident

As a math student, I'd also say that we can use trivial to talk about something that is so obvious that doesn't need to be even cited. It'd be like saying "aquatic animals live in water".

note: If the word you want needs to be acta as a subject, Triviality may solve it.


The barren land you are referring to could be 'a dispensable piece of land' i.e not needed. Even extraneous and redundant seem to work as in: You will have to purchase a 'redundant land' or 'extraneous land.' Don't know if I could help but nice question though.


A plain term for "not necessary" is "unnecessary" -- an option worth seriously considering!

A more specific way of describing a part that is unnecessary to the whole is to say that it is unessential (or inessential or nonessential).

A key distinction in tone is that while "superfluous" "ornamental" etc. emphasize that something lacks any function or utility, "unessential" merely points out that it is not required for the thing itself, and that even if it has utility it could still be dispensed with if necessary without damaging the essence of the thing.


Possibly the unwanted extra land can be described as excess baggage.

A thing that is surplus to requirements, and therefore unwanted or inconvenient:
‘the past was just so much deadweight, excess baggage’


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