Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective superficial contrast with its synonyms?

The words cursory and shallow are common synonyms of superficial. While all three words mean "lacking in depth or solidity," superficial implies a concern only with surface aspects or obvious features.

a superficial analysis of the problem

When can cursory be used instead of superficial?

In some situations, the words cursory and superficial are roughly equivalent. However, cursory suggests a lack of thoroughness or a neglect of details.

gave the letter only a cursory reading

When might shallow be a better fit than superficial?

Although the words shallow and superficial have much in common, shallow is more generally derogatory in implying lack of depth in knowledge, reasoning, emotions, or character.

a light, shallow, and frivolous review

Thesaurus Entries Near superficial

Cite this Entry

“Superficial.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on superficial

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