per·for·ma·tive | \pər-ˈfȯr-mə-tiv, pə-\

Definition of performative 

: 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

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Other Words from performative

performative noun

Examples of performative in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

As the large families and multigenerational households of the Victorian era were replaced by the small nuclear family, the mother-daughter bond grew stronger and more performative. Kimberly Chrisman-campbell, The Atlantic, "The Curious History of Mommy-and-Me Fashion," 13 May 2018 Our confirmation hearings are more performative than anything. Jen Kirby, Vox, "7 legal experts on how Kavanaugh views executive power — and what it could mean for Mueller," 11 July 2018 This was apparent after the White House Correspondents Dinner attendees’ performative outrage over Michelle Wolf’s comedy set. Lauren Duca, Teen Vogue, "Donald Trump Has Been Lying to the American Public, and Journalists Need to Call Him Out," 1 June 2018 McCaw's game is still fundamentally timid, to the point that even his more aggressive drives seem somewhat performative. Rob Mahoney,, "The Best Players Left in NBA Free Agency," 9 July 2018 The character is an actrice who is very performative. Vanessa Chow, Glamour, "Introducing Kate McKinnon, Movie Star," 26 June 2018 Sure, the performative demands of the Twitterverse means that tweets probably aren't a pure reflection of self, either. Robbie Gonzalez, WIRED, "Twitter Users Are Analytical in the Morning, Angsty at Night," 22 June 2018 Matt's excesses are, if anything, even more performative than anything in the world of the balls, and those excesses are what the ballroom competitors aim to achieve and surpass. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pose': TV Review," 22 May 2018 The idea, while well-intentioned, appears to be more performative than reformative. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Venture Capital Tries Diversity Again," 6 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of performative

1922, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

24 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for performative

The first known use of performative was in 1922

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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