As the title says. I'm looking for a good word or expression for saying something like "I have read only several chapters from random location of the book, but someday I want to read from cover to cover." I was wondering if there's a way to say like "I have ***ed the book, but..."

Addendum: More specific context is as follows. I'm talking about a textbook that I have used for a class. The class covered only several chapters of the book, so I have read them rather thoroughly, but not much for other chapters that were not covered in the class. So "I haven't read it" is not very accurate.

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    "I haven't read it."
    – Oldcat
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 22:09
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    ... Or, in the words of a famous critic: 'From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.' Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 22:18

5 Answers 5


When speaking about a textbook used in class, it's a fairly common occurrence that teachers are unable to complete the book by the end of the scholastic year (or semester) especially if they have used supplementary material or the same textbook has to be studied the following year.

To dip into a book suggests that the book itself might not be very interesting or useful, if it were we would spend a greater time reading or studying from it. That expression is more commonly used in conjunction with epic novels or hefty volumes, think of an encyclopedia. How many people actually read an entire book set from beginning to end?

Furthermore, a dip, if you consider one of its meanings is a quick "dive" into liquid to then reemerge. Ergo we dip biscuits into teas, we dip our toes in the water to test its temperature, and we dip our food into sauces or creamy mixtures.

The addendum says that the class covered only several chapters, the expression used by the OP is perfectly suitable, and one that is universally recognized. In fact Google books records 76 results for "we covered chapters".

I would suggest that a sentence similar to the one below, explains the situation adequately.

In this course we covered chapters 5-10, and plan to complete the book by next semester/term/year.

If we substitute the verb covered with dip, the meaning changes quite dramatically.

In this course we dipped into [textbook name], and plan to complete it by next semester/term/year.

The above sentence seems to imply that the class studied extracts in a haphazard, casual and superficial way. The Free Dictionary defines dip as: To read here and there at random; browse Contrast it with the verb, cover, which means all of the following: to deal with; treat; examine; investigate; refer to and you'll see why I have my reservations. Likewise the same is true for: browse; skim; scan; flick though, and leaf through all of which suggest a smattering of knowledge, where nothing is read nor understood in any detail.

Finally, the OP's request for a single word which expresses the concept of studying a few chapters in a book to return to it sometime in the future is unrealistic. Such a complex concept needs explanation. But we do have the phrasal verb put aside (also set aside) which means turn away from and put aside, perhaps temporarily, and place to one side.


"War and Peace? Oh sure, I've perused it."

See also skimmed, flipped through.

peruse (sense 1b): to look over or read through in a casual or cursory manner

skim: to give a cursory glance, consideration, or reading

flip though: to look quickly at the pages of a magazine, book, etc.

Note that peruse has the additional advantage of being an autoantonym: it also means "to study in great detail or with care". So when your professor asks "Did you read the material?", you can respond, in all honesty: "Yeah, I perused it."

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    The problem there being "peruse" has two effectively contradictory meanings Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:46
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    It's also not very colloquial. I would almost certainly assume anyone who said the first line of this answer to me in normal conversation to be either jokingly verbacious or just a bit of a pompous arse. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:54
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    @FumbleFingers, Yep, I know, but it's not a bug, it's a feature! (See updated answer.)
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:55
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    @Janus: I've actually said that senten... uh, oh.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 21:58

I've heard people say they have "dipped into a book" to mean that they have read a few pages or chapters here and there.


Another possibility is "I sampled it."


"I Leafed through." "My cursorial perusal.." "Skimmed, didn't study."

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    Cursorial? - is that like reading it on a treadmill? or turning the pages with your toes maybe?
    – draco
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 5:43
  • I think they mean "cursory". Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 17:04

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