perfunctory

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

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 \ adverb
perfunctoriness \ pər-​ˈfəŋ(k)-​t(ə-​)rē-​nəs \ 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

Though the New York story has received perfunctory coverage in the mainstream media, the Asian-American press and social media are on fire. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "The Democrats’ Racial Fault Line," 25 June 2018 Some of the spending has been perfunctory, designed to paper over the cracks of poverty and stagnation in a country whose economy has grown merely 0.6% a year for the past decade. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "How Russia Gave Itself a Facelift for the World Cup," 4 July 2018 But more often than not, when celebrities do take to the internet to clarify their relationship, the reveal is brief, perfunctory and tightly controlled. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "YouTubers Are Reinventing The Celebrity Break Up," 8 June 2018 The athlete wandered up and gave a perfunctory sniff of hello to a stranger, then wandered away again. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Meet Spitty, the Whippet Who Holds Five World Records," 22 June 2018 And while the writers tried to surprise us with a showy (but not shocking) ending, overall the episode felt a bit perfunctory, as a table-setter for next week's finale rather than crafting its own story. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'Westworld' recap: Death, deception and Dolores," 17 June 2018 The perfunctory ask for a postgame interview was being granted. Ron Richmond For The Oregonian/oregonlive, OregonLive.com, "Inside Luke Heimlich's senior season with the Oregon State baseball team," 8 June 2018 While the first half of the film is a petty perfunctory rehash of 1997’s The Lost World, with poachers rounding up dinosaurs for profit and a little bit of sport, the second half of Fallen Kingdom does something nifty. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," 5 June 2018 Nights like Game 2 may be how this Golden State era is remembered, but at least this year, most Warriors wins have been more perfunctory than perfect. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The Unnerving Excellence of Steph Curry and the Warriors," 4 June 2018

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

9 Nov 2018

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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

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

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Nglish: Translation of perfunctory for Spanish Speakers

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