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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce perfunctory (audio)

Dictionary definition of perfunctory

Done in a routine, cursory, or mechanical way, without much care, interest or attention.
"The receptionist gave a perfunctory smile as we checked out of the hotel."

Detailed meaning of perfunctory

It suggests that an action or task is performed without much thought or enthusiasm, and is often done as a mere formality. Perfunctory actions or tasks are often done quickly or superficially, without much attention to detail or quality.

A perfunctory greeting is one that is given without much interest or enthusiasm, it is given as a formality and not out of genuine interest or caring. A perfunctory inspection is one that is conducted quickly, without much attention to detail or care. A perfunctory performance is one that is given without much energy, enthusiasm or attention to detail.

Perfunctory can also be used to describe an attitude or approach that is indifferent, unenthusiastic, or lacking in interest or effort. For example, a perfunctory attitude towards work, means that one is indifferent, unenthusiastic or lack of interest in the work.

Overall, perfunctory implies a lack of care, interest or attention and a mechanical or routine execution of an action or task.

Example sentences containing perfunctory

1. Her nod was perfunctory, devoid of real interest.
2. The meeting was a perfunctory affair, lasting only ten minutes.
3. He gave the document a perfunctory glance before signing it.
4. Her apology seemed perfunctory and insincere.
5. The actor's performance was perfunctory, lacking depth and emotion.
6. Even a perfunctory inspection would have revealed the flaw.

History and etymology of perfunctory

The adjective 'perfunctory' has its roots in Latin. It can be traced back to the Latin word 'perfunctus,' which is the past participle of 'perfungi.' This Latin term combines 'per,' meaning 'through,' and 'fungi,' meaning 'to perform' or 'to carry out.' Therefore, etymologically, 'perfunctory' can be understood as 'done through' or 'carried out as a duty.' This aligns with its modern usage, where it describes actions performed in a routine, cursory, or mechanical manner, often without much care, interest, or attention. The word's etymology emphasizes the idea of going through the motions of a task without genuine engagement or enthusiasm.

Quiz: Find the meaning of perfunctory

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Further usage examples of perfunctory

1. The handshake was brief and perfunctory, without warmth.
2. His reply was so perfunctory that I doubted he was listening.
3. The ceremony was perfunctory, devoid of any personal touch.
4. The team gave a perfunctory effort, leading to their loss.
5. A perfunctory smile was the only acknowledgment he gave.
6. Their conversation was short and perfunctory, lacking real engagement.
7. The training was perfunctory, offering little value to the attendees.
8. I expected a heartfelt comment, but received only a perfunctory remark.
9. She brushed off my concerns with a perfunctory response.
10. The teacher's perfunctory feedback didn't help me understand my mistakes.
11. The waiter's service was perfunctory at best, making us feel unwelcome.
12. His perfunctory manner made it clear he wanted to move on.
13. They conducted a perfunctory search, missing the crucial evidence.
14. Her perfunctory response revealed her lack of enthusiasm for the project.
15. The employee's perfunctory attitude toward customer service led to complaints.
16. He gave a perfunctory apology, not truly acknowledging his mistake.
17. The meeting felt perfunctory, with no real progress being made.
18. She performed the task with a perfunctory manner, just to get it done.
19. His perfunctory smile did little to hide his true feelings of annoyance.
20. The review was disappointingly perfunctory, lacking in-depth analysis.
21. Their interaction was reduced to perfunctory exchanges of pleasantries.
22. The presentation was rushed and perfunctory, leaving the audience unsatisfied.
23. A perfunctory examination of the evidence led to an incomplete understanding of the case.



cursory, thorough, diligent, meticulous


GRE 1 (Graduate Record Examination), Adversity and Obstacle, Unclear and Uncertain

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