A veneer is a thin layer of material that covers something and makes it look nice.
More loosely, a veneer is a fake, superficial appearance of something.
And, to veneer something is to cover it up with something else that looks nice but is fake--but that usage is normally literal, not figurative, so we won't spend time on it.
Part of speech:
Both a noun (the countable kind: "a veneer," "the veneer," "these veneers")
and a verb (the transitive kind: "to veneer something.")
Other forms: veneers, veneered, veneering, unveneered
How to use it:
Literal veneers may be important to you if you're a carpenter or a dentist, but we'll stick to the figurative kind.
Talk about one thing having a (seemingly good) veneer of something else: "Her words had a veneer of patience, but she tapped her fingers while she waited." You can talk about peeling off or chipping off a veneer, or witnessing something else wearing away at the veneer, or seeing some true quality start to appear beneath the veneer: "Her veneer of kind patience wore thin as the customer asked his fifth question about the menu."
Instead of saying something has a veneer of something else, you can just put an adjective before "veneer:" an academic veneer, a stylistic veneer, a democratic veneer, etc.
The assembly instructions for Ikea furniture, with their language-free illustrations, have a charming veneer of simplicity and ease. But actually putting that stuff together... I've never sweated or cursed so much.
I learned recently an interesting reason for spammers' messages being so poorly written. On purpose, they try to avoid even a veneer of legitimacy, so they can capture only the most gullible victims.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "veneer" means when you can explain it without saying "thin outer sheet" or "fake appearance."
Think of someone or something genuine and honest that you love, and fill in the blanks: "You might think so, but (person or thing)'s (certain good quality) isn't a veneer. (Example of how that quality is deep or true.)"
Example: "You might think so, but Chad's cheerfulness isn't a veneer. He even hums and makes pancakes after having to get up before five o'clock in the morning for work."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing New Word Order! It's a card game that I recently created; it involves figuring out the order in which certain words and phrases entered our language. I'll give you several words and/or phrases, and you'll use your knowledge of history, slang, technology, popular culture, fashion, psychology, etc. to put them into chronological order. I'll post the right answer to each question on the following day. If you like this game, you can download and print it to play with your family and friends. (It's free.)
Remember, you don't need to come up with the actual years that the words entered the dictionary--just try to get the words in the correct time order.
Try these today:
Megastore, decoupage, & bromance.
A Point Well Made:
Aristotle: “We should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful.”
1. The opposite of VENEER is
2. Having _____, she raced to restore her _____ veneer.
A. made an error in simple subtraction .. solution
B. stomped her foot in frustration .. cool, detached
C. belly-flopped into the swimming pool .. spontaneous
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
"Varnish" and "facade" are both close synonyms of today's word, "veneer." Which of the three is best for larger, more elaborate pretenses? Which is best for a pretense that reminds you of a slick, glossy liquid? And which is best for a pretense that reminds you of a thin sheet of solid material?
And, to which two of these three words can you add "un-" and "-ed" to create a word meaning "not concealed, and therefore refreshingly honest"? (They're here and here if you'd like to check.)
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