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

Croatia defenders will be forced from the whistle into keeping close tabs on the 19-year-old forward, whose performances in Russia have been likened to Pele. John Leicester,, "Five reasons why France will win the World Cup final," 14 July 2018 Plans for those performances will be announced at a future date. Sarah Brookbank,, "Timothy Lees steps down as Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concertmaster," 13 July 2018 That style rankled some rivals and investors, but Exxon backed it up with best-in-class performance. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018 The show features several other standout performances by women. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 While the promise of an enthralling pitchers’ duel instead gave way to a pair of pedestrian performances, there was little grumbling from the Yankees, who bulled their way past the Indians for a 7-4 victory. New York Times, "A Potential Pitching Showcase Melts Into a Rugged Yankees Win," 12 July 2018 The first sight of the ink, on her left ring finger (yeah, that one), came on July 11, just hours before Grande's performance at the Amazon Music Unboxing Prime Day event in Brooklyn. Samantha Sasso,, "Ariana Grande Stans Think Her New Tattoo Is Dedicated To Her Fiancé," 12 July 2018 Fogleman, who was born in Lafayette and retired in 2011 from Comcast, is satisfied with both Trump's and Donnelly's performance. Seth Slabaugh, Indianapolis Star, "Sen. Joe Donnelly needs to keep his pro-Trump voters. But can he?," 12 July 2018 That summer, Jornet went on to notch a string of performances that were, even for him, astonishing. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "Are Kilian Jornet's Speed Records Too Good to Be True?," 12 July 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

17 Oct 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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Comments on performance

What made you want to look up performance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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