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 See her artful performance, complete with spin painting, starting at noon. Star Tribune, "Daily Guide, Sunday, September 6," 6 Sep. 2020 Over the past decade, the International Monetary Fund has recognized the importance of equality in promoting good economic performance (including growth and stability). Joseph Stiglitz For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Covid-19 has scarred the global economy, but it's not too late to change course," 6 Sep. 2020 Scoreboard August 2020 fund performance, total return by fund type. William Power, WSJ, "U.S.-Stock Funds Rose 5.5% in August," 5 Sep. 2020 Try buying any one of those new cars with this level of performance, engineering, and technology for less than $59,000 to start. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "It’s the best sports car you can buy, and it’s a Chevy," 5 Sep. 2020 And on Thursday, the 10-year-old delivered — matching the former Nirvana drummer’s performance down to the drumstick twirls, all while bearing a giant, infectious smile. Christi Carras,, "Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl loses first round of drum battle with 10-year-old prodigy," 5 Sep. 2020 The three combined for 16 receptions for 352 yards and three touchdowns, including a 6-reception, 169-yard, 2-touchdown performance by Tolbert. Creg Stephenson |, al, "5 things we learned from South Alabama’s 32-21 victory at Southern Miss," 4 Sep. 2020 The only people who will be there are those who are part of the performance — players, coaches, athletic trainers, cheerleaders, drill team and band. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "Texas high school football central: Final scores, previews, predictions and more for games on Sept. 3-4," 4 Sep. 2020 The full-scale test was designed to assess motor performance, manufacturing quality, and materials—including fuel from a new solid rocket fuel vendor—according to NASA. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Watch NASA Fire Up the Most Powerful Rocket Booster Ever," 4 Sep. 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

10 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Performance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 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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