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 cursorily (audio) , ˈkər-​sə-​ \ adverb
cursoriness \ ˈkərs-​rē-​nəs How to pronounce cursoriness (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 But, as a cursory glance at Twitter suggests, Baby Yoda is no mere television character. Daniel Arkin, NBC News, "'Baby Yoda' owns the internet. What does that mean for the future of 'Star Wars'?," 22 Nov. 2019 In response to the criticism, Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly tweeted that the Labour Party had its very own fact checking Twitter account that, again, a cursory glance doesn't make clear is affiliated with the UK's official opposition. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "The two biggest pieces of disinformation in the UK election have come from the government," 20 Nov. 2019 Jamieson noted that Trump was criticized for releasing only cursory details on his health prior to the election. Washington Post, "Trump’s weekend hospital visit draws a skeptical reaction," 19 Nov. 2019 The administration could be risking its own agenda with such cursory analyses, experts said. Adam Aton, Scientific American, "As Trump Administration Downplays Warming, Agencies Chronicle Climate Impacts," 9 Oct. 2019 No one just marches up to the base with only cursory information and starts an ascent. Gregory Thomas,, "Yosemite rangers battle trash buildup from rock climbers," 25 Sep. 2019 Thomas’s treatment here of stare decisis, and the factors traditionally cited by the justices when setting it aside, was cursory at best. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Clarence Thomas’s Unprecedented America," 26 June 2019 The Cavs earned a cursory win in Game 4 before a Game 5 loss back at Oracle. Michael Shapiro,, "Ranking the Best NBA Finals of the Past Decade," 16 Sep. 2019 Today, Hapgood is being victimized yet again by being forced to stand trial in a foreign territory with an ill-prepared judiciary, even though a cursory examination of the facts demonstrates that such a process is needless. Armstrong Williams, National Review, "The Tragedy of Scott Hapgood," 3 Sep. 2019

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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cursory.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 9 December 2019.

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More Definitions for cursory


How to pronounce cursory (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on cursory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cursory

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cursory

Spanish Central: Translation of cursory

Nglish: Translation of cursory for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cursory for Arabic Speakers

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contradictory or incongruous words

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