going rapidly over something, without noticing details; hasty; superficial: a cursory glance at a newspaper article.

Origin of cursory

1595–1605; < Late Latin cursōrius running, equivalent to Latin cur(rere) to run + -sōrius, for -tōrius -tory1; cf. course
Related formscur·so·ri·ly, adverbcur·so·ri·ness, noun

Synonyms for cursory Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cursory

Contemporary Examples of cursory

Historical Examples of cursory

  • He who writes for cursory reading is wise if he writes cursorily.

    The Slave Of The Lamp

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • To give more than a cursory description of our impressions is impossible.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

  • Desmond made a cursory tour of the walls and passed on into the second room.

  • Hastings stood up, his first, cursory examination concluded.

    No Clue

    James Hay

  • After a cursory examination he rose to his feet and pulled Mart up also.

    The Pirate Shark

    Elliott Whitney

British Dictionary definitions for cursory



hasty and usually superficial; quicka cursory check
Derived Formscursorily, adverbcursoriness, noun

Word Origin for cursory

C17: from Late Latin cursōrius of running, from Latin cursus a course, from currere to run
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for cursory

c.1600, from Middle French cursoire "rapid," from Late Latin cursorius "hasty, of a race or running," from Latin curs-, past participle stem of currere "to run" (see current (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper