per·​for·​mance | \pər-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s, 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 3

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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

For now, the early Firefox performance is a good sign. Sean Hollister, The Verge, "Firefox running on a Qualcomm 8cx-powered PC feels surprisingly decent," 6 Dec. 2018 Off-road performance isn’t the only way Rivian is aiming its electric vehicles to the outdoor crowd. Kraig Becker, Popular Mechanics, "Rivian's Electric Truck and SUV Are Built to Tackle the Great Outdoors," 27 Nov. 2018 The performances are alert and sensitive without seeming studied. ... Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "My Brilliant Friend," 20 Nov. 2018 The quarterly performance is the worst since the second quarter of 2014, when growth was also 0.2 percent and hobbled by wide-ranging debt problems across the single currency bloc, notably in Greece. Pan Pylas, The Seattle Times, "Eurozone economy slows to its weakest level in 4 years," 30 Oct. 2018 Her last awards show performance was over two years ago, at the Grammys in 2016. Chelsea Stone, Glamour, "Taylor Swift Literally Lit the 2018 American Music Awards Stage on Fire," 9 Oct. 2018 The Commerce Department says the performance of the gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, was unchanged from its estimate last month. Martin Crutsinger, Fox News, "US economy grew at robust 4.2 percent rate in Q2," 27 Sep. 2018 Nvidia has built layers of software, called CUDA, that allow AI scientists to write programs to get the best performance from the chips, with direct support from Nvidia engineers. Wenxin Fan, WSJ, "A Silicon Valley Tech Leader Walks a High Wire Between the U.S. and China," 19 Nov. 2018 The special will honor the 15 year run of the hit Broadway show and will include performances from previous leads of the Broadway show, including Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel, and pop stars who have been fans of the show. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande Breaks Her Silence After Pete Davidson Engagement Split," 17 Oct. 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for performance

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

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More Definitions for performance



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.

: the act of doing a job, an activity, etc.


per·​for·​mance | \pər-ˈfȯr-məns \

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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