per·​for·​mance | \ pər-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s How to pronounce performance (audio) , pə- \

Definition of performance

1a : the execution of an action
b : something accomplished : deed, feat
2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : implementation
3a : the action of representing a character in a play
b : a public presentation or exhibition a benefit performance
4a : the ability to perform : efficiency
b : the manner in which a mechanism performs engine performance
5 : the manner of reacting to stimuli : behavior
6 : the linguistic behavior of an individual : parole also : the ability to speak a certain language — compare competence sense 1c

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Examples of performance in a Sentence

This evening's performance will start at 8 o'clock. The hall is usually used for orchestra performances. The critics loved her performance as the villain. A supervisor will evaluate each employee's performance. employees with strong job performances Employees are given an annual performance assessment. The gas additive improves engine performance. an increased level of performance We've introduced new performance levels.
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Recent Examples on the Web This year, Cook received a new long-term equity grant, which could include as many as 1.7 million shares, depending on company performance, according to THR. William Thornton |, al, "Apple CEO Tim Cook’s made $15 million last year," 6 Jan. 2021 Oregon fell from the top 20 to 44th on third-down conversions based on that performance. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "10 takeaways from Oregon’s loss to Iowa State in Fiesta Bowl," 4 Jan. 2021 But companies often resist disclosing detailed information on the performance of their business segments for fear of revealing too much to competitors. Mark Maurer, WSJ, "U.S. Accounting Standard-Setter Looks to Tackle Controversial Topics in 2021," 4 Jan. 2021 The then-two-term Republican governor of New Jersey had placed many of his chips on a strong performance in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state. Paul Steinhauser, Fox News, "Christie says 2016 White House run flameout wouldn't handicap him in 2024," 1 Jan. 2021 Billboard's 21 No. 21 Hits for '21 recap is based on actual performance on the weekly Hot 100 chart. Gary Trust, Billboard, "21 No. 21 Hits for '21: Salt-N-Pepa, Willie Nelson, Aerosmith & More," 1 Jan. 2021 Depending on firm performance, those shares would produce an annual yield distributed directly to every citizen. Christopher Mackin, The New Republic, "A Pandemic Dividend for Every American," 1 Jan. 2021 During a Disney On Ice performance Nov. 22, an audience member received numerous warnings from on-site security about wearing a mask but persisted in not wearing one. Liz Hardaway,, "Anti-maskers draw citations at San Antonio’s annual Alamo Bowl," 31 Dec. 2020 Where there is overlap (e.g., two students make a temperature sensor), then the group has to make a choice, and justify that choice based on sensor performance or application specifications. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "All I want for Christmas is an awesome new curriculum," 29 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'performance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of performance

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for performance

Time Traveler

The first known use of performance was in the 15th century

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Statistics for performance

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Performance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for performance


How to pronounce performance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of performance

: an activity (such as singing a song or acting in a play) that a person or group does to entertain an audience
: the way an actor performs a part in a play, movie, etc.
somewhat formal : the act of doing a job, an activity, etc.


per·​for·​mance | \ pər-ˈfȯr-məns How to pronounce performance (audio) \

Kids Definition of performance

1 : the carrying out of an action He's in the performance of his duty.
2 : a public entertainment We attended a symphony performance.



Legal Definition of performance

1 : work done in employment unsatisfactory performance
2a : what is required to be performed in fulfillment of a contract, promise, or obligation substituted a new performance in novation of the contract
b : the fulfillment of a contract, promise, or obligation
part performance
1 : partial performance of a contract, promise, or obligation
2 : a doctrine which provides an exception to the Statute of Frauds requirement that a contract be in writing by treating partial performance and the acceptance of it by the other party as evidence of an enforceable contract — compare partial breach at breach
specific performance
1 : the complete or exact fulfillment of the terms of a contract, promise, or obligation
2 : an equitable remedy that requires a party to fulfill the exact terms of a contract, promise, obligation, or decree mandating a remedy and that is used when legal remedies (as damages) are inadequate the common law prohibition against specific performance as a remedy for alleged breach of employment contractChady v. Solomon Schechter Day Schs., 645 N.E.2d 983 (1995) — compare injunction
substantial performance
1 : performance of the essential terms of a contract, promise, or obligation a contractor is not entitled to a lien in the absence of substantial performanceCasa Linda Tile & Marble Installers, Inc. v. Highlands Place 1981 Ltd., 642 So. 2d 766 (1994)
2 : a doctrine which permits a party (as a builder) that acted in good faith to recover from the other party to a contract for a performance that departs in minor respects from what was promised — compare material breach at breach
3 : a public rendition or presentation of an artistic work

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