noun per·for·mance \ pər-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s , pə- \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of performance

1 a : the execution of an action
b : something accomplished : deed, feat
2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : implementation
3 a : the action of representing a character in a play
b : a public presentation or exhibition
  • a benefit performance
4 a : 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 3

Examples of performance in a Sentence

  1. This evening's performance will start at 8 o'clock.

  2. The hall is usually used for orchestra performances.

  3. The critics loved her performance as the villain.

  4. A supervisor will evaluate each employee's performance.

  5. employees with strong job performances

  6. Employees are given an annual performance assessment.

  7. The gas additive improves engine performance.

  8. an increased level of performance

  9. We've introduced new performance levels.

Recent Examples of performance from the Web

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.

First Known Use of performance

15th century

in the meaning defined at sense 1a

See Words from the same year
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Other Performing Arts Terms

PERFORMANCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of performance for English Language Learners

  • : 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.

PERFORMANCE Defined for Kids


noun per·for·mance \ pər-ˈfȯr-məns \

Definition of performance for Students

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

Law Dictionary


noun per·for·mance

legal Definition of performance

1 : work done in employment
  • unsatisfactory performance
2 a : 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 contract
  • Chady 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 performance
  • Casa 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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very hard to disturb or upset

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