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

Giolito deserves more than a cursory congratulations. Michael Shapiro,, "Lucas Giolito Is Living Up to His Top Prospect Billing," 11 June 2019 The cursory familiarity that many people today have with Mandela’s story of moral courage and triumph has produced a near-universal secular beatification. Howard W. French, The New York Review of Books, "Notes from Underground," 7 Feb. 2019 However, those are just cursory notes on the brand. Devon Abelman, Allure, "What Kitao's Matcha Skin-Care Line Taught Me About Japanese Beauty," 11 May 2019 Nerd networks have grown exponentially larger and more connected, giving millions of people instant (and often cursory) access to fellow obsessives. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "How the first Wakandacon escaped the fan convention curse," 13 Aug. 2018 After a cursory check, the nurse determined there were no broken bones and sent Abuha back to his tent at the mine to rest and try to recoup. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Thousands Flock to Remote, Lawless Sahara in Search of Gold," 16 Oct. 2018 Like many of us with even a cursory knowledge of diagnostic testing or medical device regulation, Carreyrou realized some of Theranos' claims just didn't sound legitimate. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "The downfall of Theranos, from the journalist who made it happen," 15 July 2018 From a cursory watch, the movie plays as a classic A.I. apocalypse, rise-of-the-machines flick. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "How 'Ex Machina' Foresaw the Weaponization of Data," 16 Jan. 2019 Even a cursory glance at the dust jackets of Ferrante’s books reveals that the story continues to follow the two women into adulthood and old age. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "HBO’s My Brilliant Friend adaptation is a knockout," 18 Nov. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near cursory






cursus honorum


Statistics for cursory

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for cursory

The first known use of cursory was in 1601

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cursory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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