• synonyms


  1. performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial: perfunctory courtesy.
  2. lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic: In his lectures he reveals himself to be merely a perfunctory speaker.
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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 formsper·func·to·ri·ly, adverbper·func·to·ri·ness, noun



Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for perfunctoriness

Historical Examples

  • She greeted him with a like perfunctoriness and introduced him to Miss Belthorp.

    Happy Pollyooly

    Edgar Jepson

  • Lee could not escape that feeling of perfunctoriness in her twitter of talk.

    The Iron Furrow

    George C. Shedd

  • It is not difficult to trace signs of fatigue and perfunctoriness in the later works of its representatives.

    The Russian Opera

    Rosa Newmarch

  • Though she talked so sweetly there was, Karen felt it now, a perfunctoriness in Tante's remarks.


    Anne Douglas Sedgwick

  • Sylvia thought she perceived a new note in Edna's tone, a courtesy, a perfunctoriness, that chilled her.

    The Opened Shutters

    Clara Louise Burnham

British Dictionary definitions for perfunctoriness


  1. done superficially, only as a matter of routine; careless or cursory
  2. dull or indifferent
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Derived Formsperfunctorily, adverbperfunctoriness, 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

Word Origin and History for perfunctoriness



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper