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 Daimler's performance brand AMG will offer derivatives of future EQ models, Daimler R&D chief Markus Schäfer revealed in a discussion today. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, "Mercedes-Benz EQ Lineup Will Be Enhanced by AMG Models," 21 Jan. 2021 Instead, the deal entitled Levy and his publisher to 35% the songs’ revenue, paid by Dylan or directly from a performance rights organization. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "Bob Dylan Sued Over Co-Writer's Claim to Song Catalog Sale: What It Means," 21 Jan. 2021 Jennifer Lopez’s performance was, by contrast, a feat of musical restraint—at least for a bit. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Technicolor Normalcy of Biden’s Inauguration," 21 Jan. 2021 But despite the impressive pyrotechnics and equally impressive performance, we were mesmerized by how phenomenal the new mom looked for the big event. Marci Robin, Allure, "Katy Perry Made a Last-Minute Change to Her Inauguration Makeup Look," 21 Jan. 2021 When the motive to reach out is simple connection in a frightening time, performance pressure eases up. Robin Abrahams,, "Everything about the pandemic has been bad, except this...," 21 Jan. 2021 Stocks have gained about 13% since Election Day as of Tuesday — the best post-election market performance for a new president in modern history, according to CFRA Research. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Trump is handing Biden a booming stock market," 20 Jan. 2021 For now, there are no plans for an ensemble performance, though Burtis remains hopeful that could become possible later this year. Rachel Alexander, oregonlive, "‘Car choir’ allows Oregon singers to gather safely during COVID-19," 20 Jan. 2021 There will be a comfortable cruising mode that operates in near silence for maximum efficiency, as well as a dynamic performance mode that uses an adaptive suspension and four-wheel steering to attack curving roads. Ryan Zummallen, Star Tribune, "Edmunds: Top automotive tech at CES 2021," 20 Jan. 2021

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

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Performance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 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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