The surface is the outside of anything. The earth, a basketball, and even your body have a surface.

A surface is the top layer of something. The surface of the moon is rocky, with a lot of craters, while the surface of the earth has a lot of water. Sandpaper has a rough surface; a balloon has a smooth but rubbery surface. When we use the word surface, it usually means there is a lot of stuff underneath. That applies to our use of surface to mean outward mood, as in "You look happy on the surface, but I know you're angry on the inside."

Definitions of surface
  1. noun
    the outer boundary of an artifact or a material layer constituting or resembling such a boundary
    “there is a special cleaner for these surfaces
    “the cloth had a pattern of red dots on a white surface
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    the flat surface of a printing press on which the type form is laid in the last stage of producing a newspaper or magazine or book etc.
    board, gameboard
    a flat portable surface (usually rectangular) designed for board games
    the striking or working surface of an implement
    (art) the surface (as a wall or canvas) prepared to take the paint for a painting
    horizontal surface, level
    a flat surface at right angles to a plumb line
    Klein bottle
    a closed surface with only one side; formed by passing one end of a tube through the side of the tube and joining it with the other end
    (physics) the curved upper surface of a nonturbulent liquid in a vertical tube
    miter, mitre
    the surface of a beveled end of a piece where a miter joint is made
    Mobius strip
    a continuous closed surface with only one side; formed from a rectangular strip by rotating one end 180 degrees and joining it with the other end
    plaster, plasterwork
    a surface of hardened plaster (as on a wall or ceiling)
    projection screen, screen, silver screen
    a white or silvered surface where pictures can be projected for viewing
    an extended outer surface of an object
    an outer surface (usually thin)
    spandrel, spandril
    an approximately triangular surface area between two adjacent arches and the horizontal plane above them
    outer surface of an area or a body
    the grooved surface of a pneumatic tire
    vertical surface
    a surface that is vertical
    work surface
    a horizontal surface for supporting objects used in working or playing games
    a piece of canvas cloth prepared as the surface for a painting
    backgammon board
    the board on which backgammon is played
    the broad side of a ship
    the whole side of a vessel from stem to stern
    checker board, checkerboard
    a board having 64 squares of two alternating colors
    cribbage board
    a board with pegs and regularly spaced holes for holding the pegs; used for keeping the score in a game of cribbage
    dart board, dartboard
    a circular board of wood or cork used as the target in the game of darts
    a sharp side formed by the intersection of two surfaces of an object
    a vertical surface of a building or cliff
    floor, flooring
    the inside lower horizontal surface (as of a room, hallway, tent, or other structure)
    the side that is seen or that goes first
    go board
    a board used for playing go
    larboard, port
    the left side of a ship or aircraft to someone who is aboard and facing the bow or nose
    monopoly board
    a board used for playing monopoly
    the side of a vehicle nearest the kerb
    the side of a coin or medal bearing the principal stamp or design
    Ouija, Ouija board
    a board with the alphabet on it; used with a planchette to spell out supernatural messages
    pargeting, pargetry, pargetting
    ornamental plasterwork
    paved surface
    a level horizontal surface covered with paving material
    a board perforated with regularly spaced holes into which pegs can be fitted
    a raised horizontal surface
    a small board full of holes; each hole contains a slip of paper with symbols printed on it; a gambler pays a small sum for the privilege of pushing out a slip in the hope of obtaining one that entitles him to a prize
    back, rear
    the side that goes last or is not normally seen
    reverse, verso
    the side of a coin or medal that does not bear the principal design
    the side of an automobile tire
    the underside of a part of a building (such as an arch or overhang or beam etc.)
    the right side of a ship or aircraft to someone who is aboard and facing the bow or nose
    the top horizontal work surface of a table
    upper surface
    the side that is uppermost
    wide screen
    a projection screen that is much wider than it is high
    writing board
    work surface consisting of a wide lightweight board that can be placed across the lap and used for writing
    a flat surface in a kitchen on which food is prepared
    type of:
    artefact, artifact
    a man-made object taken as a whole
  2. noun
    the extended two-dimensional outer boundary of a three-dimensional object
    “they skimmed over the surface of the water”
    “a brush small enough to clean every dental surface
    “the sun has no distinct surface
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    (chemistry) a surface forming a common boundary between two things (two objects or liquids or chemical phases)
    hard palate
    the bony part of the roof of the mouth
    palate, roof of the mouth
    the upper surface of the mouth that separates the oral and nasal cavities
    face, side
    a surface forming part of the outside of an object
    celestial sphere, empyrean, firmament, heavens, sphere, vault of heaven, welkin
    the apparent surface of the imaginary sphere on which celestial bodies appear to be projected
    the surface at either extremity of a three-dimensional object
    inside, interior
    the inner or enclosed surface of something
    exterior, outside
    the outer side or surface of something
    substrate, substratum
    a surface on which an organism grows or is attached
    wave front, wavefront
    (physics) an imaginary surface joining all points in space that are reached at the same instant by a wave propagating through a medium
    the intensely luminous surface of a star (especially the sun)
    (nautical) at the ends of the transverse deck beams of a vessel
    bottom, underside, undersurface
    the lower side of anything
    forepart, front, front end
    the side that is forward or prominent
    the hollow inside of something
    lee, lee side, leeward
    the side of something that is sheltered from the wind
    the side of something that is toward the wind
    back end, backside, rear
    the side of an object that is opposite its front
    top, top side, upper side, upside
    the highest or uppermost side of anything
    oil-water interface
    an interface forming the boundary between the non-miscible liquids oil and water
    type of:
    bound, boundary, bounds
    the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something
  3. noun
    the outermost level of the land or sea
    “earthquakes originate far below the surface
    “three quarters of the Earth's surface is covered by water”
    synonyms: Earth's surface
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    the bottom surface of any lake or other body of water
    the lower inside surface of any hollow structure
    type of:
    a relatively thin sheetlike expanse or region lying over or under another
  4. adjective
    on the surface
    surface materials of the moon”
    on or above the surface of the ground
    constructed at ground level
    opencast, opencut
    (of mines and mining) worked from the exposed surface
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    beneath the surface
    located or originating from above
    belowground, underground
    under the level of the ground
    submarine, undersea
    beneath the surface of the sea
    submerged, submersed, underwater
    beneath the surface of the water
    subterranean, subterraneous
    being or operating under the surface of the earth
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  5. verb
    come to the surface
    synonyms: come up, rise, rise up
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    come up to the surface of or rise
    reappear on the surface
    bubble up, intumesce
    move upwards in bubbles, as from the effect of heating; also used metaphorically
    swell, well
    come up, as of a liquid
    type of:
    ascend, go up
    travel up, "We ascended the mountain"
  6. verb
    put a coat on; cover the surface of; furnish with a surface
    synonyms: coat
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    rubber, rubberise, rubberize
    coat or impregnate with rubber
    anodise, anodize
    coat a metal with an oxide coat
    coat with gelatin
    coat (a liquid) with a layer
    coat with stucco
    coat with beaten egg
    encrust, incrust
    cover or coat with a crust
    cover before cooking
    coat with soot
    give a new surface
    brush on
    apply with a brush
    patinate, patinise, patinize
    coat with a patina
    cover with a new surface
    coat with bread crumbs
    coat with a layer of copper
    provide with a finish
    bonderise, bonderize
    coat with a substance that will prevent corrosion
    coat with blacktop
    coat or back with metal foil
    galvanise, galvanize
    cover with zinc
    cover with a material such as stone or concrete to make suitable for vehicle traffic
    seal, varnish
    cover with varnish
    coat with a glaze
    coat with tar
    provide with a coating
    daub, plaster
    coat with plaster
    coat with plastic or cement
    coat with a mixture of gypsum and spackle
    apply paint to; coat with paint
    cover or coat with cement
    cover with a grit
    coat with a layer of metal
    cover with metal
    macadamise, macadamize, tarmac
    surface with macadam
    cover or stiffen or glaze a porous material with size or sizing (a glutinous substance)
    metalize, metallize
    coat with metal
    coat with metallic platinum
    coat with porcelain or a porcelain-like surface
    coat or cover with zinc
    prepare (a metal) for soldering or brazing by applying a thin layer of solder to the surface
    cover with flour
    put a finish on
    finish with a broom
    cobble, cobblestone
    pave with cobblestones
    hard surface
    cover with asphalt or a similar surface
    pave a road with cobblestones or pebbles
    cover with tar or asphalt
    shellac, shellack
    cover with shellac
    cover with two coats of plaster
    apply ornamental plaster to
    apply roughcast to
    plaster with mud
    plaster with mortar
    paint (a surface) to make it look like stone or wood
    paint again
    paint with an airbrush
    ground, prime, undercoat
    cover with a primer; apply a primer to
    plate with tin
    coat with a layer of silver or a silver amalgam
    plate with nickel
    coat with metal by electrolysis
    chrome, chromium-plate
    plate with chromium
    gold plate, gold-plate, goldplate
    plate with gold
    silver-plate, silverplate
    plate with silver
    type of:
    provide with a covering or cause to be covered
  7. noun
    a superficial aspect as opposed to the real nature of something
    “it was not what it appeared to be on the surface
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    aspect, facet
    a distinct feature or element in a problem
  8. verb
    appear or become visible; make a showing
    “I hope the list key is going to surface again”
    synonyms: come on, come out, show up, turn up
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    type of:
    come into sight or view
  9. noun
    information that has become public
    “the facts had been brought to the surface
    synonyms: open
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    type of:
    general knowledge, public knowledge
    knowledge that is available to anyone
  10. noun
    a device that provides reactive force when in motion relative to the surrounding air; can lift or control a plane in flight
    synonyms: aerofoil, airfoil, control surface
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    an airfoil that controls lateral motion
    the airfoil on the tailplane of an aircraft that makes it ascend or descend
    flap, flaps
    a movable airfoil that is part of an aircraft wing; used to increase lift or drag
    horizontal stabiliser, horizontal stabilizer, tailplane
    the horizontal airfoil of an aircraft's tail assembly that is fixed and to which the elevator is hinged
    rotary wing, rotor blade
    the long airfoil that rotates to provide the lift that supports a helicopter in the air
    a hinged vertical airfoil mounted at the tail of an aircraft and used to make horizontal course changes
    a hinged airfoil on the upper surface of an aircraft wing that is raised to reduce lift and increase drag
    an airfoil mounted on the rear of a car to reduce lift at high speeds
    airfoil consisting of a device for stabilizing an aircraft
    vertical tail
    the vertical airfoil in the tail assembly of an aircraft
    one of the horizontal airfoils on either side of the fuselage of an airplane
    horizontal tail
    the horizontal stabilizer and elevator in the tail assembly of an aircraft
    landing flap
    a flap on the underside of the wing that is lowered to slow the plane for landing
    tail fin, tailfin, vertical fin, vertical stabiliser, vertical stabilizer
    a stabilizer that is part of the vertical tail structure of an airplane
    type of:
    an instrumentality invented for a particular purpose
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