Definition of perfunctory in English:


See synonyms for perfunctory

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  • (of an action or gesture) carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection.

    ‘he gave a perfunctory nod’
    • ‘Still, if her attempts to marry wealth are perfunctory, her efforts to increase hers are disastrous.’
    • ‘Anyone with even the most perfunctory interest in classical music will have their own favourite Mozart piece.’
    • ‘However, this poor, perfunctory effort will do the band more harm than good.’
    • ‘That was why the requirements for the non-enterprise websites had been superficial and perfunctory.’
    • ‘He asked what happened, made some perfunctory enquiries, reset the cord and carried on.’
    • ‘His comments on these developments were rather brief and perfunctory.’
    • ‘He fails in his duty if his investigation is superficial, slipshod or perfunctory.’
    • ‘It seems likely that this interest was never more than passive or perfunctory.’
    • ‘But its digital download efforts to date have been perfunctory and poorly promoted.’
    • ‘Without individualized merit pay, teacher evaluations will remain perfunctory at best.’
    • ‘They are functional but somehow perfunctory, uncompelling.’
    • ‘After the most perfunctory of prefaces, he began to speak quickly, urgently.’
    • ‘This has resulted in a perfunctory clean-up of the area and a discussion on the lack of funds available to restore the park to an acceptable standard.’
    • ‘His hands are very soft but quite puffy too, and his shake is straight from the school of perfunctory political politeness.’
    • ‘We have sat through a showcase of set speeches by shadow ministers, but only perfunctory contributions have been allowed from the floor.’
    • ‘After a perfunctory search, the soldiers found nothing suspicious in his vehicle and the incident was written off as a tragic accident.’
    • ‘A perfunctory glance at the painting without having any thought on the substance and the meaning of the work is of little use.’
    • ‘Friday's rain-lashed practice session was no more than a few perfunctory laps to give the spectators something to watch.’
    • ‘Excuse us for a perfunctory midweek news roundup this week.’
    • ‘I performed a few perfunctory twirls and made good my escape.’
    cursory, desultory
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/pərˈfəNG(k)t(ə)rē/ /pərˈfəŋ(k)t(ə)ri/


Late 16th century from late Latin perfunctorius ‘careless’, from Latin perfunct- ‘done with, discharged’, from the verb perfungi.