Like, if you get in a fender bender and there is some scraped paint, you would say "the damage was..."

  • 5
    Years ago when playing conkers, we'd say skin trouble for the minor damage, and belly-ache for the more serious situation where your "mortally-wounded" conker was about to disintegrate on the next successful hit. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 21:52
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    If the damage is to a person, you might say it's just a flesh wound. Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 23:44
  • 1
    Superficial or cosmetic.
    – moonstar
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 6:40

12 Answers 12


Such damage is sometimes referred to as "cosmetic". Oxforddictionaries.com defines this sense of the word as "affecting only the appearance of something rather than its substance".

  • 2
    Thank you, cosmetic works but superficial was the specific word I was looking for!
    – SoapyFork
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 13:37
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    This should be the accepted answer. A quick search for images on "cosmetic damage" vs "superficial damage" will reveal that current use of English favours "cosmetic". Specifically when used in relation to a car (which the question implies).
    – xpereta
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 15:28
  • 1
    @xpereta Google Ngram lists cosmetic damage as 0.0000005862% and superficial damage as 0.0000010497%; getting on for nearly twice as popular: Not sure where your getting your data from?
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 21:17
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    Yes, the point is meaning, specifically in the domain of use of the question (cars). Compare the result of these 2 image searches google.es/search?q=superficial+damage with google.es/search?q=cosmetic+damage . In the case of "cosmetic" damage results show that the word is used in the context of cars and other motor vehicles and covers the "fender bender" case given as an example in the question. For accuracy (in the use of the word in 2015) and to help future users this should be the accepted answer.
    – xpereta
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 8:31
  • 2
    Ok, I will accept this because it does have more relevancy to my specific question. In the case of how I ended up using the word, superficial was exactly what I was looking for. I only used this example because I felt it would elicit the response that I was looking for. @xpereta
    – SoapyFork
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 16:02

Superficial is the word you're looking for.

[Merriam Webster]

: concerned only with what is obvious or apparent : not thorough or complete

: affecting only the outer part or surface of something : not deep or serious

"the damage was superficial"

  • Perfect, thank you. It was stuck in the back of my head. I'll accept when it allows me to do so.
    – SoapyFork
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 20:09

I've heard this called, just a flesh wound. See also: but a scratch.

From the source:
King Arthur: [after Arthur's cut off both of the Black Knight's arms] Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!
Black Knight: Yes I have.
King Arthur: Look!
Black Knight: It's just a flesh wound.

source: Monty Python And The Holy Grail - Just A Flesh Wound

  • 4
    Thanks for posting! Please add more detail to your answer to explain why it is a good fit to the question. Some possible ways to do this: give an example sentence, quote a definition of the phrase from a reputable source, or just write a little in your own words about what this phrase means and how it can be used.
    – herisson
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 9:22
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    And (in this case) add a link to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 9:37
  • "It's JUST a flesh wound"
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 16:13
  • 2
    +1 When I saw the title of the question I was immediately reminded of flesh wound and would have go on to also quote Monty Python And The Holy Grail, glad I'm not the only one!
    – Nobilis
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 10:34
  • That seems to be more sarcastic than not, and not answering the question.
    – AAM111
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 21:14

I'd suggest,


: small in amount or degree AHD Ngram


: not significant or important enough to be worth considering; trifling. AHD

  • 1
    These are not the best words for this particular question. Minor damage, such as broken lights, would still hinder the operation of the vehicle.
    – gbarry
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 23:07

It's a blemish:

  1. A small mark that makes the appearance of something less attractive.
  2. An imperfection that mars or impairs; a flaw.


  • Blemish is the only word that comes to mind that fits the title. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:01
  • 1
    However, the question asks for an adjective. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:17
  • @MattE.Эллен: The OP only asks for their sentence to be completed and "The damage was a blemish" is grammatically correct, so, no. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:32
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    But semantically unpleasant at best. Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 14:35
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    I think a blemish is part of the thing's production more than damage. A mole on your face, or a manufacturing defect in the casing of an appliance, are blemishes. These are not "damage", which the question explicitly asks for. Actual damage like a scratch in auto paint, on the other hand, might only be called a blemish if it was caused on the production line.
    – talrnu
    Commented Nov 25, 2015 at 14:29

I'd say minor:

  • lesser or smaller in amount, extent, or size.

  • lesser or secondary in amount, extent, importance, or degree: minor burns.

Ngran: minor damage


not important or significant, of little consequence.


In the Black Knight sequence in Monty Python's Holy Grail, King Arthur and the Black Knight fight until Arthur cuts off Black Knight's left arm, to the following dialogue:

King Arthur: Now, stand aside, worthy adversary!

Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch!

So, "the damage was but/just a scratch".

  • 2
    Shakespeare lifted this line from the Pythons.
    – gbarry
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 21:31

For minor car damage, a "ding"-- like a dent, but cute and little. It's a little more specific than "cosmetic" or "superficial.

Part of speech/usage: "I got dinged!" "It's just a ding."

Anything with a metal shell, or a finish, can get dinged: laptops, furniture, airplanes, yachts...

  • At least in my experience 'ding' is not in common use in the UK; 'bump' would I think be more common than 'ding' in the sense used above. I presume that 'ding' is more popular in the USA though.
    – rivimey
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    It might even be a regionalism, a Texas regionalism, as in "Dang! Mah truck got dinged wheeun I hit that hoss."
    – Neal
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 14:21
  • I've heard it used for cars a few times in the UK. It also (albeit I mostly read this online) comes up a lot in discussion of guitars, which are usually only metaphorically metal. Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 8:21

If the damage is from wear and tear, you could use "abrade"

  • Abrasion can most certainly hinder function. It is also not necessarily visible.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Nov 27, 2015 at 12:37

'Light' as in "The aircraft was hit by enemy fire but damage was light." Or, "The car was struck by a rock but suffered only light damage."


Word for damage that isn't serious, mostly visual and not hindering the function of the thing:


"The damage was disfiguring."

  • Lol how can some random voter downvote a word that means what the question asked. Disfigurement "isn't serious" beyond "mostly visual" and "doesn't hinder the function". The votes shouldn't be willynilly subjective but objective to the relevance of the answer to the question as quoted. Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 17:08

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