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 formsper·func·to·ri·ly, adverbper·func·to·ri·ness, noun

Synonyms for perfunctory

Antonyms for perfunctory Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for perfunctory

Contemporary Examples of perfunctory

Historical Examples of perfunctory

  • She began to fry her pork and apples, with a perfunctory attempt at conversation.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • He fell to them with only a perfunctory acknowledgment of my agency in procuring them.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • The tone of the question revealed its perfunctory character.

    The Market-Place

    Harold Frederic

  • Teaching "at" these things in a dull, perfunctory way will do no good.

  • He thought it best to give a perfunctory grunt and hope Jeff would go on.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for perfunctory



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

Word Origin for perfunctory

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 perfunctory

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