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. – FumbleFingers Nov 23 '15 at 21:52
  • 5
    If the damage is to a person, you might say it's just a flesh wound. – Josh1billion Nov 23 '15 at 23:44
  • 1
    Superficial or cosmetic. – moonstar Nov 27 '15 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 Nov 24 '15 at 13:37
  • 13
    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 Nov 24 '15 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? – Christopher Nov 24 '15 at 21:17
  • 4
    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 Nov 25 '15 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 Nov 25 '15 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 Nov 23 '15 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 Nov 24 '15 at 9:22
  • 7
    And (in this case) add a link to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. – AndyT Nov 24 '15 at 9:37
  • "It's JUST a flesh wound" – Kevin Nov 25 '15 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 Nov 26 '15 at 10:34
  • That seems to be more sarcastic than not, and not answering the question. – OldBunny2800 Nov 27 '15 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 Nov 28 '15 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. – Qix - MONICA WAS MISTREATED Nov 24 '15 at 14:01
  • 1
    However, the question asks for an adjective. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 24 '15 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. – Ulrich Schwarz Nov 24 '15 at 14:32
  • 4
    But semantically unpleasant at best. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 24 '15 at 14:35
  • 1
    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 Nov 25 '15 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 Nov 28 '15 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 Nov 26 '15 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 Nov 27 '15 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. – underscore_d Nov 30 '15 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 Nov 27 '15 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. – Shelby Moore III Nov 18 '16 at 17:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.