[ per-fawr-muhns ]
See synonyms for performance on
  1. a musical, dramatic, or other entertainment presented before an audience.

  2. the act of performing a ceremony, play, piece of music, etc.

  1. the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.

  2. a particular action, deed, or proceeding.

  3. an action or proceeding of an unusual or spectacular kind: His temper tantrum was quite a performance.

  4. the act of performing.

  5. the manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose.

  6. Linguistics. the actual use of language in real situations, which may or may not fully reflect a speaker's competence, being subject to such nonlinguistic factors as inattention, distraction, memory lapses, fatigue, or emotional state.: Compare competence (def. 6).

Origin of performance

First recorded in 1485–95; perform + -ance

Other words from performance

  • mis·per·form·ance, noun
  • re·per·form·ance, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use performance in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for performance


/ (pəˈfɔːməns) /

  1. the act, process, or art of performing

  2. an artistic or dramatic production: last night's performance was terrible

  1. manner or quality of functioning: a machine's performance

  2. informal mode of conduct or behaviour, esp when distasteful or irregular: what did you mean by that performance at the restaurant?

  3. informal any tiresome procedure: what a performance dressing the children to play in the snow!

  4. any accomplishment

  5. linguistics (in transformational grammar) the form of the human language faculty, viewed as concretely embodied in speakers: Compare competence (def. 5), langue, parole (def. 5)

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