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[per-fuhngk-tuh-ree] /pərˈfʌŋk tə ri/
performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial:
perfunctory courtesy.
lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic:
In his lectures he reveals himself to be merely a perfunctory speaker.
Origin of perfunctory
1575-85; < Late Latin perfūnctōrius negligent, superficial, derivative of perfungī to do one's job, be done, equivalent to per- per- + fung-, base of fungī to perform, function + -tōrius -tory1
Related forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
1, 2. negligent, heedless, thoughtless, uninterested.
1, 2. careful, diligent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for perfunctorily
Historical Examples
  • Renouard, perfunctorily, did see no reason why he should make a long stay.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • He asked where she was going, a conventional question, perfunctorily put.

    The Wrong Woman

    Charles D. Stewart
  • She moved about perfunctorily, with an air of preoccupation.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • They tried him, formally if perfunctorily; he admitted his imposture, and begged for his life.

    Northern Lights Gilbert Parker
  • They applauded vociferously but perfunctorily, in order to appear to understand.

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • He ran, perfunctorily, through all the foolish turnings and windings of the maze.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
  • He kissed her perfunctorily, and then turned to his letters.

    The Day of Judgment

    Joseph Hocking
  • She realised, perfunctorily, as the successful do, the blankness of defeat.

    Regiment of Women Clemence Dane
  • "Yes, and you used to be very rude," put in Kent perfunctorily.

    Cynthia Leonard Merrick
  • Yet we had frequent evidence that cases were not dealt with perfunctorily.

    A Civil Servant in Burma Herbert Thirkel White
British Dictionary definitions for perfunctorily


done superficially, only as a matter of routine; careless or cursory
dull or indifferent
Derived Forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin perfunctōrius negligent, from perfunctus dispatched, from perfungī to fulfil; see function
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perfunctorily



1580s, from Late Latin perfunctorius "careless, negligent," literally "like one who wishes to get through a thing," from Latin perfungus, past participle of perfungi "discharge, busy oneself, get through," from per- "through" + fungi "perform" (see function (n.)). Related: Perfunctorily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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