from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Relating to or being an utterance that peforms an act or creates a state of affairs by the fact of its being uttered under appropriate or conventional circumstances, as a justice of the peace uttering I now pronounce you husband and wife at a wedding ceremony, thus creating a legal union, or as one uttering I promise, thus performing the act of promising.
  • n. A performative utterance.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being enacted as it is said.
  • n. A performative utterance.


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • It's true that I'm interested in performative "ways of reading," in tone itself, and in a poet whose tone remains perplexing, and whose affect feels excessive, to many readers.

    Hemans, Heber, and _Superstition and Revelation_

  • Is it simply "performative" -- a space where feelings and reactions can be more safely aired than in physical spaces?

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  • Umpires' calls are what philosophers of language call "performative utterances"—their say-so is what makes it so.

    Arbitrary Power in America's Pastime

  • So, the plan for victory is what we in the lit crit business call a performative; that is, a saying whose action is accomplished in the uttering.

    Marshall Grossman: Plan For Victory

  • It is THIS that is the substance of Christian Hope, which the Pope describes as performative, pulling this hoped for future into the present, allowing the believer to infuse Earth with Heaven.

    Spe Salvi | Mind on Fire

  • Monroe performs characters that are thoroughly defined as performative.

    All The Available Light

  • We have raised the question: can our encounter with the God who in Christ has shown us his face and opened his heart be for us too not just "informative" but "performative" - that is to say, can it change our lives, so that we know we are redeemed through the hope that it expresses?

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  • Because it's not accomplished by the speech act itself, in other words the signing of the contract, you can't call it a performative, which is the linguistics term for what I call language of performance.


  • The wording thus has an extended or connotative aspect to it, becoming what Austin called a performative utterance.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XVIII No 2

  • Performance begins by distinguishing sharply between performativity as applied to speech acts and performativity in the theater: "For while philosophy and theater now share 'performative' as a common lexical item, the term has hardly come to mean 'the same thing' for each" (Parker and Sedgwick 3).

    Crossroads of Philosophy and Cultural Studies: Body, Context, Performativity, Community


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