per·​for·​ma·​tive | \ pər-ˈfȯr-mə-tiv How to pronounce performative (audio) , pə- \

Definition of performative

1 : being or relating to an expression that serves to effect a transaction or that constitutes the performance of the specified act by virtue of its utterance a performative verb such as promise — compare constative
2 : relating to or marked by public, often artistic performance … comes across as funny, sharp and unfiltered, with a broad performative streak.— Meredith Blake The secret … behind a magic trick is normally quite simple, but it's the magician's performative flair and masterly execution that makes it come to life.— Ian Frisch For me, this changed the atmosphere of the night from performative to meditative, from a concert to a private memorial service.— Catherine Womack
3 disapproving : made or done for show (as to bolster one's own image or make a positive impression on others) But when expressing outrage is as easy as posting a hashtag, a meme, or an empty black square, there's a question of whether that outrage is genuine or performative.— Alia E. Dastigir … a large part of the discussion surrounding the movement's focus is on actually doing the work, rather than just keeping it a performative symbol of allyship.— Kara Nesvig Without black executives, anti-racism signaling is merely performative.— Charles Chamberlayne

Other Words from performative

performative noun

Examples of performative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And Neenan’s choreography, based in ballet, contemporary, and modern, is an uncannily seamless mix of performative and pedestrian movements: a smart correspondent with the lyrics, rather than a rote follower. Janine Parker,, 1 July 2022 And while most shows fumbled clumsily through conversations about race or queerness, or both, this show managed to pull off the seemingly impossible: Their stories were nuanced and real; progressive without being performative. Kathleen Newman-bremang,, 25 May 2022 But as Linda Akutagawa, the president and CEO of the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) non-profit notes, some of these corporate actions were performative and some were more meaningful. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 13 May 2022 Consumers and employees won’t hesitate to call brands out for performative activism. Kian Bakhtiari, Forbes, 5 June 2022 And then of course there’s the fact that pledges usually don’t require any actual commitment; anyone can join in for the sake of performative activism. Ethan Millman, Rolling Stone, 31 Mar. 2022 To watch Conversations is to watch her acerbic words detailing the agony of the Millennial experience—so performative! Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 19 May 2022 Those accusations and rumors were untrue, unfair, and ugly, and just another piece of performative politics. Joel Mathis, The Week, 4 Apr. 2022 Eddo Lodge, however, warned that the progress was still performative across much of media, in that diverse casting and front facing representation isn’t yet denting the power structures affecting decision making and resource allocation. Nancy Doyle, Forbes, 19 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'performative.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of performative

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of performative was in 1922

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Dictionary Entries Near performative

performance-enhancing drug



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Last Updated

3 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Performative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

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