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

In addition to live performances from top local talent, a free caramel apple bar and a cash bar will be available. Carol Kovach,, "Lakewood Community, European festivals set for Sept. 7: A Place in the Sun," 3 Sep. 2019 There was yet another stellar performance from Tua Tagovailoa who looked like a Heisman Trophy favorite. John Talty |, al, "The SEC’s shaky Saturday overshadows big wins," 1 Sep. 2019 Treinen then worked a scoreless seventh, striking out two, his best performance in a big game to date after enduring a mostly lousy season. Susan Slusser,, "A’s bats go cold late in 11-inning loss to Yankees," 31 Aug. 2019 Expect an explosive performance from the symphony as well as cannons and fireworks. San Diego Union-Tribune, "12 things to do in San Diego this weekend: Barona Powwow, Latinx New Play Festival, Sand Sculpting Challenge," 30 Aug. 2019 The Ducks need a breakout performance from one of their receivers. oregonlive, "UO quarterback Justin Herbert’s childhood hero is former Oregon RB LaMichael James: Issues & Answers," 29 Aug. 2019 This year’s lineup up featured artists who gave crowd-pleasing performances from names like FKA twigs, Jill Scott, Tierra Whack and more. Essence, "Afropunk 2019: Everything We Loved This Year At Brooklyn's Blackest Festival," 27 Aug. 2019 Hosted by comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, the event will include performances from some of music’s biggest names: Taylor Swift, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, and many more will be hitting the stage. Vogue, "MTV VMAs 2019: Fashion—Live From the Red Carpet," 26 Aug. 2019 Viewers instead were shown a musical performance from the group Cheat Codes. Phil Rosenthal,, "A look at ESPN’s documentary on the NFL’s 4 female owners: ‘I don’t want (players) to look on me as some little old lady who is just kind of hanging around’," 25 Aug. 2019

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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Statistics for performance

Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

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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.
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 make a temporary encampment

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