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

Carillon tours are available after the performance from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for $2 per person. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "This Week in Naperville," 13 July 2018 The fest’s reliably rich spread of world music features a Latin highlight on Friday this year with performances from Orquesta Akokan, Las Cafeteras, and Orquesta El Macabeo. Michael Andor Brodeur,, "The Weekender: Casanova, Beck, Dwayne, and Jason," 12 July 2018 And them some really good performances from guys who weren't as well known like (Danijel) Subasic and (Sime) Vrsaljko in the semifinal. Grant Wahl And Brian Straus,, "World Cup Daily Podcast: How Finalists France, Croatia Mirror Their 1998 Teams," 12 July 2018 First Reformed' Paul Schrader's film features a terrific performance from Ethan Hawke as a minister suffering from a crisis of faith, which understates the case considerably. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Here are the best movies of 2018 (so far)," 11 July 2018 Backed by a huge performance from Phoebe Spangler, Burbank-Jewel City rolled to a four-inning 12-2 win against Magnolia at West Lancaster Little League Fields. Charles Rich,, "Burbank-Jewel City softball picks up pool-play tournament win," 11 July 2018 The inauguration will also feature performances from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the Glide Ensemble. Dominic Fracassa,, "London Breed’s inauguration as mayor of SF — a who’s who," 11 July 2018 On the same day Messi, with whom Ronald has long competed for the title of the world's best, was sent home empty-handed by a French side inspired by a breathtaking performance from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe. Chicago Tribune,, "Ronaldo: Football legend takes his talents to Juventus," 10 July 2018 Not even a scoreless performance from starting pitcher Danny Duffy could end the Royals’ losing streak. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals bullpen, dormant offense spoil Danny Duffy's start in narrow loss to Twins," 9 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

19 Sep 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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a magnificent or impressive array

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