per·​for·​mance | \ pər-ˈfȯr-mən(t)s How to pronounce performance (audio) , pə- \

Essential Meaning of performance

1 : an activity (such as singing a song or acting in a play) that a person or group does to entertain an audience This evening's performance will start at 8 o'clock. The hall is usually used for orchestra performances.
2 : the way an actor performs a part in a play, movie, etc. The critics loved her performance as the villain. She gave a brilliant performance as the villain. [=she played the role of the villain brilliantly]
3 somewhat formal : the act of doing a job, an activity, etc. the performance of procedures/activities/duties Event planners hope to avoid a repeat performance of last year's problems. [=hope that last year's problems will not happen again this year]

Full Definition of performance

1a : the execution of an action
b : something accomplished : deed, feat
2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : implementation
3a : the action of representing a character in a play
b : a public presentation or exhibition a benefit performance
4a : the ability to perform : efficiency
b : the manner in which a mechanism performs engine performance
5 : the manner of reacting to stimuli : behavior
6 : the linguistic behavior of an individual : parole also : the ability to speak a certain language — compare competence sense 1c

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Examples of performance in a Sentence

This evening's performance will start at 8 o'clock. The hall is usually used for orchestra performances. The critics loved her performance as the villain. A supervisor will evaluate each employee's performance. employees with strong job performances Employees are given an annual performance assessment. The gas additive improves engine performance. an increased level of performance We've introduced new performance levels.
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Recent Examples on the Web Fitnescity offers individual health and wellness tests or a lab panel of tests assessing different metrics related to wellness, nutrition and performance. Frederick Daso, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 Since the controversial hardware decision—implemented for both performance and security reasons—Microsoft added Windows 11 support for some older computers, but the company still recommends against it. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, 15 Oct. 2021 Neymar started the week facing criticism after a poor performance in a World Cup qualifying match and his suggestion that the next tournament in Qatar might be his last. Mauricio Savarese, ajc, 15 Oct. 2021 Aside from performance and screen improvements, the M1X MacBook will also feature a new design. Chris Smith, BGR, 13 Oct. 2021 Here, we were relegated to HR folders of résumés and performance reviews that were scrutinized and picked apart by the Executive Committee. Ew Staff,, 13 Oct. 2021 The Mini-Fest will be located along Church Street at Häos on Church, the restaurant and performance space that opened at the end of 2020, and nearby at The Floridabilt, once Orlando’s historic train depot. Matthew J. Palm,, 13 Oct. 2021 Featuring award-winning technology, the collaboration embodies the passion both companies have for perfection, performance and revolutionary design. Emerald Elitou, Essence, 13 Oct. 2021 The works span mediums from video, painting, photography, sculpture, sound and performance and explore such themes as surveillance and environmental justice through a feminist lens. The Editors, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for performance

Time Traveler

The first known use of performance was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near performance

per formam doni


performance art

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Statistics for performance

Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Performance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for performance


per·​for·​mance | \ pər-ˈfȯr-məns How to pronounce performance (audio) \

Kids Definition of performance

1 : the carrying out of an action He's in the performance of his duty.
2 : a public entertainment We attended a symphony performance.



Legal Definition of performance

1 : work done in employment unsatisfactory performance
2a : what is required to be performed in fulfillment of a contract, promise, or obligation substituted a new performance in novation of the contract
b : the fulfillment of a contract, promise, or obligation
part performance
1 : partial performance of a contract, promise, or obligation
2 : a doctrine which provides an exception to the Statute of Frauds requirement that a contract be in writing by treating partial performance and the acceptance of it by the other party as evidence of an enforceable contract — compare partial breach at breach
specific performance
1 : the complete or exact fulfillment of the terms of a contract, promise, or obligation
2 : an equitable remedy that requires a party to fulfill the exact terms of a contract, promise, obligation, or decree mandating a remedy and that is used when legal remedies (as damages) are inadequate the common law prohibition against specific performance as a remedy for alleged breach of employment contractChady v. Solomon Schechter Day Schs., 645 N.E.2d 983 (1995) — compare injunction
substantial performance
1 : performance of the essential terms of a contract, promise, or obligation a contractor is not entitled to a lien in the absence of substantial performanceCasa Linda Tile & Marble Installers, Inc. v. Highlands Place 1981 Ltd., 642 So. 2d 766 (1994)
2 : a doctrine which permits a party (as a builder) that acted in good faith to recover from the other party to a contract for a performance that departs in minor respects from what was promised — compare material breach at breach
3 : a public rendition or presentation of an artistic work

More from Merriam-Webster on performance

Nglish: Translation of performance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of performance for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about performance


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