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[per-fawr-muh ns] /pərˈfɔr məns/
a musical, dramatic, or other entertainment presented before an audience.
the act of performing a ceremony, play, piece of music, etc.
the execution or accomplishment of work, acts, feats, etc.
a particular action, deed, or proceeding.
an action or proceeding of an unusual or spectacular kind:
His temper tantrum was quite a performance.
the act of performing.
the manner in which or the efficiency with which something reacts or fulfills its intended purpose.
Linguistics. the actual use of language in real situations, which may or may not fully reflect a speaker's competence, being subject to such nonlinguistic factors as inattention, distraction, memory lapses, fatigue, or emotional state.
Compare competence (def 6).
Origin of performance
1485-95; perform + -ance
Related forms
misperformance, noun
reperformance, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for performance
  • Because of this, television manufacturers have to deliver better efficiency while still improving performance in other areas.
  • Goffman's point: Weddings make the performance part of social life obvious.
  • The former was a genuinely cathartic performance following a shocking event.
  • Hard-training athletes boost their performance with a variety of popular sports drinks.
  • I've always been glad I saw her performance that day.
  • The refreshing and easy soup from that meal has had many a repeat performance.
  • Simply taking performance-enhancing drugs will not improve performance.
  • Please continue to provide feedback on how this affects performance.
  • We even get to hear an in-studio performance of one of his many songs with a water sanitation message.
  • In settings like these, even lighting the barbecue feels like a performance.
British Dictionary definitions for performance


the act, process, or art of performing
an artistic or dramatic production: last night's performance was terrible
manner or quality of functioning: a machine's performance
(informal) mode of conduct or behaviour, esp when distasteful or irregular: what did you mean by that performance at the restaurant?
(informal) any tiresome procedure: what a performance dressing the children to play in the snow!
any accomplishment
(linguistics) (in transformational grammar) the form of the human language faculty, viewed as concretely embodied in speakers Compare competence (sense 5), langue, parole (sense 5)
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
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Word Origin and History for performance

late a5c., "accomplishment" (of something), from perform + -ance. Meaning "a thing performed" is from 1590s; that of "action of performing a play, etc." is from 1610s; that of "a public entertainment" is from 1709. Performance art is attested from 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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