What It Means
: rapidly and often superficially performed or produced : hasty
cursory in Context
James gave the instructions only a cursory look before he began to assemble the shelves and didn't realize until he was partway through that he would need a power drill.
"The police report has been filed, but a detective won't be on the case until Tuesday. Knowing LA, there are so many automobile thefts that it may not get much more than a cursory acknowledgement from the police." — Bradley Brownell, Jalopnik, 28 Jan. 2018
Did You Know?
Cursory and its synonyms superficial and shallow all mean "lacking in depth or care"—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."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete a noun derived from Latin currere that refers to aid or relief: s _ _ c _ r.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP