Does it make any difference whether we pledge our allegiance or our loyalty to the flag? Loyalty and allegiance both imply a sense of duty or of devoted attachment to something or someone. Loyalty often has a more personal element to it. It connotes sentiment and the feeling of devotion that one holds for one's country, creed, family, or friends (her loyalty was rewarded). The word allegiance, originating in the feudal relationship between a liege and his lord, applies particularly to a citizen's duty to their country, or, by extension, one's obligation to support a party, cause, or leader (multinational corporations owing allegiance to no country). Whether used in the context of countries, multinational corporations, or football teams, allegiance usually implies a more official, contractual relationship than loyalty, with the suggestion of factions whose interests are at odds.
The white glove test would reveal no difference between a superficial cleaning and a perfunctory one. Neither cleaning has been thorough, and both have dealt only with the surface—in these respects, the two adjectives overlap in meaning. Superficial can be a purely descriptive, neutral term (superficial wound), but when used of a person or a person’s actions, superficial often suggests fakeness or shallowness (superficial writer, superficial values). Perfunctory can also be used of people, but it is more often used of actions and behaviors that are done in haste, with the minimum of attention and enthusiasm, as if merely going through the motions (a perfunctory greeting, a perfunctory investigation)—the way you might do something when you have to do it rather than want to do it.
To excuse something, such as slight offense or an error, is to regard or judge it with forgiveness or indulgence: please excuse Cookie Monster’s bad manners. More commonly, however, excuse is paired with me and used as a polite expression when addressing a stranger, interrupting or disagreeing with someone, or requesting repetition of what has just been said: Excuse me, did you say there are no cookies left? The synonym pardon overlaps with excuse in both of these senses, but with slight variations. Like excuse, pardon implies being lenient on a matter, though it usually applies to a specific act of lenience or mercy by an official or superior: the governor was asked to pardon the condemned. Informally, pardon is used to ask for courteous allowance for something: Pardon me, madam, I did not mean to make you drop your cookie!