adjective Philosophy, Linguistics.

(of an expression or statement) performing an act by the very fact of being uttered, as with the expression “I promise,” that performs the act of promising.


a performative utterance.

Nearby words

  1. performance art,
  2. performance bond,
  3. performance indicator,
  4. performance test,
  5. performance-enhancing,
  6. performer,
  7. performing,
  8. performing arts,
  9. perfume,
  10. perfumed

Compare constative.

Origin of performative

First recorded in 1950–55; perform + -ative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for performative

British Dictionary definitions for performative


adjective linguistics philosophy

  1. denoting an utterance that constitutes some act, esp the act described by the verb. For example, I confess that I was there is itself a confession, and so is performative in the narrower sense, while I'd like you to meet … (effecting an introduction) is performative only in the looser senseSee also locutionary act, illocution, perlocution
  2. (as noun)that sentence is a performative
  1. denoting a verb that may be used as the main verb in such an utterance
  2. (as noun)``promise'' is a performative
Derived Formsperformatively, adverb

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

Word Origin and History for performative


1955, adjective and noun, coined by British philosopher of language J.L. Austin (1911-1960), from perform + -ive.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper