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 And, on cursory look, the scammers’ website appeared genuine. Chikezie Omeje, Quartz, "How online scammers fooled one of Africa’s biggest fintech startups," 8 Apr. 2021 But after a cursory look at NASA’s website, to his surprise, NASA had no concrete plans for mounting a crewed mission to Mars. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, "‘Liftoff’ Offers Inside Look Into SpaceX’s Desperate Early Days," 12 Mar. 2021 And perhaps the most important development that only receives cursory attention is the unraveling relationship with neighboring India. Washington Post, "Revisiting Pakistan’s tangle of contradictions and violence," 11 Dec. 2020 Even a cursory glance at Major League Baseball’s injured list can be alarming., "Has the condensed 2020 season caught up with major leaguers in 2021?," 24 Apr. 2021 But a cursory glance at data reported by the media shows no major change in the demographic profile of coronavirus patients. Vijayta Lalwani, Quartz, "Is India’s second Covid-19 wave impacting more youth and kids than the first?," 15 Apr. 2021 In virtually every Taser confusion incident there is some training failure found, Higgins said, adding that most of it is cursory, substandard and bare minimum. Jo Ciavaglia, USA TODAY, "Experts: Taser confusion errors like Daunte Wright shooting are rare but avoidable," 13 Apr. 2021 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of cursory was in 1601

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Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Cursory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 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

Comments on cursory

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