perfunctory was our Word of the Day on 04/25/2007. Hear the podcast!
Examples of perfunctory in a sentence
The eight-time Pro Bowl player sometimes goes several weeks without agreeing to do even the most perfunctory postgame interviews. —Nunyo Demasio, Sports Illustrated, 8 Jan. 2007
Convivial and self-absorbed, he talks freely about crime and crooks, with only the most perfunctory nods toward conventional morality. —Edward Dolnick, The Rescue Artist, 2005
You probably don't want to know how perfunctory was the presentation of the state's evidence, how tenth-rate was the performance of the court-appointed defense or how wretched was the end. —Christopher Hitchens, Nation, 23-30 Aug. 1999
the violinist delivered a perfunctory performance that displayed none of the passion and warmth he was once known for
Did You Know?
Perfunctory is a word whose origins are found entirely in Latin. First appearing in English in the late 16th century, it derives via the Late Latin perfunctorius, meaning "done in a careless or superficial manner," from the Latin perfungi, meaning "to accomplish" or "to get through with." That verb is formed by combining the prefix per-, meaning "through," with the verb fungi, meaning "to perform." "Fungi" can be found in the roots of such words as "function," "defunct," and "fungible." "Perfunctory" can describe something that is carried out with little effort or care, as in "He did a perfunctory job raking the leaves," but when used to describe a person it usually means "lacking enthusiasm."
PERFUNCTORY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of perfunctory for English Language Learners
—used to describe something that is done without energy or enthusiasm because of habit or because it is expected
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up perfunctory? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).