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 The 49ers harassed Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers into one of the worst performances of his career. oregonlive, "NFL Playoffs 2020: San Francisco 49ers expect to face a different Green Bay Packers in NFC Championship game," 20 Jan. 2020 The final performance of Rawhide is Saturday night. Jennifer Percy, Harper's magazine, "The Skinning Tree," 20 Jan. 2020 Then put half into a low-cost index fund that mimics the performance of the entire U.S. stock market. Scott Burns, Dallas News, "Three cheers for sloth and simplicity! 2019 another fruitful year for investing the Couch Potato way," 19 Jan. 2020 The teams met in November, and host San Francisco earned a dominant 37-8 win, with Rodgers turning in one of the least impressive performances of his career. Anchorage Daily News, "What to know about the NFL’s conference championship games," 19 Jan. 2020 Buoyed by the record-setting performances of Derrick Henry, the Titans plowed through the Patriots and Ravens in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Dave Skretta,, "Chiefs know stopping Derrick Henry is a tall order, but necessary for victory," 18 Jan. 2020 The rationale for the spinoff had been that Old Navy, which generated almost half of Gap Inc.’s $16.6 billion in 2018, would flourish as a separate stock of a booming brand, not weighed down by the poor performances of Gap and Banana Republic. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Why Gap Inc. torpedoed its Old Navy spinoff," 18 Jan. 2020 The performance doesn’t work unless the wrestler is fully present. San Francisco Chronicle, "Wrestler Drugz Bunny prepares to enter the ring during a Hoodslam event at Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland.," 18 Jan. 2020 The book is the act, or the performance, of a teacher: although written with graceful precision and sly wit, the book retains a tone of orality that, to me, is distinctly reminiscent of Perez’s voice—in particular, his classroom voice. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "A Tribute to My Teacher Gilberto Perez and His Eloquent Philosophy of Cinema," 17 Jan. 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

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Performance.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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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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Comments on performance

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to express in a more acceptable way

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