A veneer is a thin outside layer stuck onto something.
The idea is usually to make it look pretty:
This chest, perhaps by Andre-Charles Boulle, has been veneered with tortoiseshell, gilt, copper and ebony.
or more expensive:
This veneer is made of stone. Photo by Mwojteck
or to make it more robust:
these are layers of softwood veneer stuck together to make plywood. The direction of the grain changes with each piece of veneer, making the finished product very strong.
Basically, the veneer is the bit you see. On a person, the veneer might be of sophistication, of good manners, of education, or of concern.
Or of simple wealth:
dental veneers. Photo by Clausgast
But the question always is: what's underneath?
Thing To Do Today: display a veneer. This word comes from the German furnieren, to veneer, from the Old French fournir, to furnish.