Looking for a word that describes writing that is superficial and sounds knowledgeable but actually doesn't mean anything. It would be written by someone who doesn't have deep knowledge on the subject but pretends to know the subject.

Example sentence: This is a ______ article.

Word is not "shallow." It means more than shallow. It means there is an effort to sound knowledgeable on the topic. Almost like there's an element of "faking" knowledge.

  • Did you look for synonyms of shallow or trivial or sophomoric? All match the words you give but that means you need to give more details about the connotations it must and must not have.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:35
  • Though I don't think it answers your intended question, I favor "This is a cromulent article." Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 16:43
  • Twitter? Facebook?
    – David
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 19:58

5 Answers 5


facile: (especially of a theory or argument) appearing neat and comprehensive only by ignoring the true complexities of an issue; superficial.

Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/facile

  • 1
    I think this is right on target, @gabe, but you’re going to be asked for a source or reference to support the answer—a link to the dictionary you used, for example. Otherwise the answer is likely to be deleted.
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 2:44

The word I'd choose here (this after OP's edit) is specious.

specious adjective 1 Superficially plausible, but actually wrong.

a specious argument ...

This argument was presumably specious since the integrated system has since been jettisoned in favor of subcontracting. ...

Hucksters flaunted their specious cure-ails on posters, broadsides, and other printed formats.

1.1 Misleading in appearance, especially misleadingly attractive

(ODO = Lexico)


What about pretentious:

attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.


  • I don't get it... I couldn't find those words at that link or on the M-W site at all. But it does seem to come from Urban Dictionary. So which is it?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 15:03

I think pretentious works, but more and more it has taken on connotations of being affected or ostentatious, showy.

For example, here is Merriam Webster's definition:

expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature


As in:

This is a shallow article. TFD figurative

Lacking depth of intellect, emotion, or knowledge:

And the OED:

  1. figurative use of shallow:

a. Of thought, reasoning, observation, knowledge, or feeling: Lacking depth, superficial.

As in:

The problem is that we confuse a shallow familiarity with general concepts for real, in-depth knowledge. The Guardian Jun 29, 2019

  • Can you comment on, though the OP dismisses this out of hand, why it is still a good answer?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:34
  • 1
    @Mitch added more context. tks
    – lbf
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 12:49

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