cur·​so·​ry | \ ˈkərs-rē How to pronounce cursory (audio) , ˈkər-sə- \

Definition of cursory

: rapidly and often superficially performed or produced : hasty a cursory glance Only a cursory inspection of the building's electrical wiring was done.

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Other Words from cursory

cursorily \ ˈkərs-​rə-​lē How to pronounce cursory (audio) , ˈkər-​sə-​ \ adverb
cursoriness \ ˈkərs-​rē-​nəs How to pronounce cursory (audio) , ˈkər-​sə-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for cursory

superficial, shallow, cursory mean lacking in depth or solidity. superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features. a superficial analysis of the problem shallow is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character. a light, shallow, and frivolous review cursory suggests a lack of thoroughness or a neglect of details. gave the letter only a cursory reading

What Is the Difference Between cursory,superficial, and shallow?

Cursory and its synonyms "superficial" and "shallow" all mean "lacking in depth or solidity" - but these words are not used in exactly the same way in all cases. "Cursory," which comes from the Latin verb currere ("to run"), implies speed and stresses a lack of attention to detail. While "cursory" suggests a lack of thoroughness, "superficial" implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features. An analysis of a problem might be labeled "superficial" if it considers only the obvious and fails to dig deeper into the issue. "Shallow" is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character, as in "insensitive and shallow comments."

Examples of cursory in a Sentence

Only a cursory inspection of the building's electrical wiring was done. The mayor gave a cursory glance at the report. Even the most cursory look at the organization's records shows problems.
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Recent Examples on the Web Start with those reps, which become difficult to manage when giving someone other than the starting quarterback more than cursory practice snaps with the first string. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Should Ohio State football try a two-quarterback strategy to open the 2021 season?," 15 Mar. 2021 But a cursory glance at the hashtag shows more ostensibly millennial Eminem fans defending the rapper than teens and twenty-somethings leading a cancel crusade. Bryan Rolli, Forbes, "Gen Z Wants To Cancel Eminem. His Millennial Fans Should Be Proud," 12 Mar. 2021 Officers subsequently took control of the unmanned boat and were able to pull it ashore before conducting a cursory investigation. Jon Haworth, ABC News, "Man vanishes in attempt to swim after boat he lost control of, presumed dead," 1 Mar. 2021 Symptom checks were cursory in the prison, and suspended altogether for a period of about a week after Thanksgiving for no apparent reason, inmates said. New York Times, "Vulnerable Inmates Left in Prison as Covid Rages," 27 Feb. 2021 While the renowned University of Chicago dominates the physical landscape of Chicago's Hyde Park at a cursory glance, the neighborhood is its own distinct self, a cultural hub whose offerings stretch well beyond its academic anchor. Sarahlynn Pablo, Condé Nast Traveler, "What to Do in Chicago's Hyde Park," 25 Feb. 2021 Even a cursory glance at the podcast charts would reveal that the bulk of popular shows tend to center around storytelling, informational, or educational experiences. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, "Does Clubhouse Mean Bad Things for Podcasting?," 16 Feb. 2021 But that cursory explanation doesn’t begin to do tofu justice. Team Basically, Bon Appétit, "What Is Tofu? Plus, So Much More Info We Can’t Fit in This Headline," 12 Feb. 2021 In the meantime, on the streets and in the stores, a cursory look at pedestrians and shoppers gave no irrefutable indication of what is sometimes considered to be Washington snow panic. Washington Post, "Gray Saturday skies make Sunday snow plausible," 7 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cursory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cursory

1601, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cursory

borrowed from Medieval Latin cursōrius "of running, swift" (Late Latin in nominal derivatives, as cursōria "shoe for running"), adjectival derivative of Latin cursor "runner" — more at cursor

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Time Traveler for cursory

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The first known use of cursory was in 1601

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Last Updated

22 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cursory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for cursory



English Language Learners Definition of cursory

formal + often disapproving : done or made quickly


cur·​so·​ry | \ ˈkərs-rē How to pronounce cursory (audio) , ˈkər-sə-rē \

Kids Definition of cursory

: done or made quickly a cursory reply

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Comments on cursory

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