perfunctory

adjective
per·​func·​to·​ry | \ pər-ˈfəŋ(k)-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce perfunctory (audio) \

Definition of perfunctory

1 : characterized by routine or superficiality : mechanical a perfunctory smile
2 : lacking in interest or enthusiasm

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Other Words from perfunctory

perfunctorily \ pər-​ˈfəŋ(k)-​t(ə-​)rə-​lē How to pronounce perfunctorily (audio) \ adverb
perfunctoriness \ pər-​ˈfəŋ(k)-​t(ə-​)rē-​nəs How to pronounce perfunctoriness (audio) \ noun

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."

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

This was no rigid, perfunctory reading by an 18-year-old prodigy. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Heat prompts Cleveland Orchestra to rise on humid evenings at Blossom," 22 July 2019 This is old money shooting, and lunch is perfunctory. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "How Rumors of a Feud Between Kate Middleton and Rose Cholmondeley Captivated a Posh Corner of Britain," 5 Aug. 2019 Among the media and the public, the water, health and security crises are met with studied apathy or perfunctory, sensationalist attention. Samar Halarnkar, Quartz India, "India’s battling one crisis after another, but parliament and media are obsessed with the irrelevant," 24 June 2019 But her scenes have a choppy, perfunctory quality that fights the story at every turn. Ann Hornaday, Twin Cities, "Mob wives turn mobsters in ‘The Kitchen,’ a pale shadow of last year’s ‘Widows’," 8 Aug. 2019 Trump, who often seems most comfortable on rally stages with deeply partisan crowds, has not excelled at projecting empathy, mixing what can sound like perfunctory expressions of grief with awkward offhand remarks. Jill Colvin, Fortune, "Trump Will Speak in Dayton and El Paso Today Following Mass Shootings," 7 Aug. 2019 Fischer did not allow the final not-Mozart sections their perfunctory function. Los Angeles Times, "Mozart’s Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl takes on special relevance in tragic times," 7 Aug. 2019 In this scheme of things, norms and laws are perfunctory theater, at best. Elizabeth Spiers, The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi," 24 July 2019 There, schools, meetings, even hockey games frequently begin with even a perfunctory acknowledgment, explains Teen Vogue. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "On Whose Land Do You Sit?: raceAhead," 23 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perfunctory.' 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 perfunctory

1593, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for perfunctory

Late Latin perfunctorius, from Latin perfungi to accomplish, get through with, from per- through + fungi to perform — more at per-, function

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Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for perfunctory

The first known use of perfunctory was in 1593

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More Definitions for perfunctory

perfunctory

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of perfunctory

formal used to describe something that is done without energy or enthusiasm because of habit or because it is expected

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Spanish Central: Translation of perfunctory

Nglish: Translation of perfunctory for Spanish Speakers

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