Try Our Apps


Famous Last Words


[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. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for perfunctorily
Historical Examples
  • She took it from the bag she carried, and he glanced at it perfunctorily.

    The Firefly Of France Marion Polk Angellotti
  • She moved about perfunctorily, with an air of preoccupation.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • Unemotional Archie perfunctorily contributed to the pile an old cloth cap with the peak torn off.

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

    Northern Lights Gilbert Parker
  • But when the door had finally closed on him Hepworth let his perfunctorily smiling face relax.

    The Beauty Mrs. Wilson Woodrow
  • Renouard, perfunctorily, did see no reason why he should make a long stay.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • "He didn't say much about you," replied Walter perfunctorily.

    The Eldest Son Archibald Marshall
  • He asked where she was going, a conventional question, perfunctorily put.

    The Wrong Woman Charles D. Stewart
  • When together, Janet and Rosie always talked—not perfunctorily, either, but with much emphasis and many headshakings.

    The Rosie World Parker Fillmore
  • He ran, perfunctorily, through all the foolish turnings and windings of the maze.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for perfunctory

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for perfunctorily

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for perfunctorily