Definitions

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

  • adj. Done routinely and with little interest or care: The operator answered the phone with a perfunctory greeting.
  • adj. Acting with indifference; showing little interest or care.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Done merely to discharge a duty; performed mechanically and as a thing of rote; done in a careless and superficial manner; characterized by indifference; as, perfunctory admonitions; aspiring only to minimum standards.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Done merely to get rid of a duty; performed mechanically and as a thing of rote; done in a careless and superficial manner; characterized by indifference.
  • adj. Hence: Mechanical; indifferent; listless; careless.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Done mechanically or without interest or zeal, and merely for the sake of getting rid of the duty; done in a half-hearted or careless manner, or so as to conform to the letter but not to the spirit; careless; negligent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. as a formality only
  • adj. hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough

Etymologies

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

Late Latin perfūnctōrius, from Latin perfūnctus, past participle of perfungī, to get through with : per-, per- + fungī, to perform.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Late Latin perfunctorius, from the past participial stem of perfungor, perfunct- ("perform, carry through"), from per- + fungor

Examples

  • Sequences that could sing with tension and excitement are done in perfunctory fashion.

    GreenCine Daily: DVDs, 11/15.

  • Although previously prepared forms may be used, special care should be exercised to insure that the use of forms of report of investigation does not result in perfunctory or inaccurate certifications of compliance with the requirements of this paragraph (34).

    EXECUTIVE ORDER 10214

  • I introduced myself, and at my name his perfunctory manner changed.

    The Window at the White Cat

  • In other news I’m still a bit sick, working my way through the Tennessee Hamthrax Aric gave me last week; so if posting is a bit light or perfunctory which is to say, a string of announcements or links for a few more days, I hope you’ll forgive me.

    February 18, 2010

  • Appropriate commentary then becomes an issue of finding the right kind of perfunctory praise, in some cases an emphasis on the "sensational copy" that occasionally accompanies this or that book.

    Book Reviewing

  • I heard Bill Nichols, managing editor of Politico. com, tell all DC news radio WTOP that Hillary gave only a "perfunctory" performance -- a "bare minimum of support for Obama."

    Hillary: "Were You In This Campaign Just For Me?"

  • When Willie did bother to sing, his voice was rich and strong, but "perfunctory" would be a kind way to describe most of his vocal and instrumental work.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • There weren't any kind of perfunctory congratulations at all, Heidi.

    CNN Transcript Oct 9, 2009

  • This kind of perfunctory but nuanced characterization runs throughout the film, which is blessed with a seemingly never-ending parade of memorable bit players who each get their chance to chew some scenery and spit it out again.

    Mystery Street

  • He was a temptation beyond imagining, but she didn't think she could bear it if he was going to be "perfunctory" with her once more.

    Tender Rebel

Comments

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  • But allowing tourists to move about freely is hardly just a matter of making checkpoints perfunctory.

    February 9, 2018

  • Heard about you on A Way with Words, one of my three favorite podcasts (Fresh Air and Sound Opinions being the others).

    October 1, 2009

  • "Though it was supposed to be proper for them to have an occupation, the crude fact of money-making was still regarded as derogatory, and the law, being a profession, was accounted a more gentlemanly pursuit than business. But none of these young men had much hope of really advancing in his profession, or any earnest desire to do so; and over many of them the green mould of the perfunctory was already perceptibly spreading."

    - Edith Wharton, 'The Age of Innocence'.

    September 19, 2009

  • Time is not a great healer. It is an indifferent and perfunctory one. Sometimes it does not heal at all. And sometimes when it seems to, no healing has been necessary.

    Ivy Compton-Burnett

    March 15, 2008

  • forced

    out-of-habit

    monotonous

    careless

    superficial

    December 15, 2007