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[per-fawr-muh-tiv] /pərˈfɔr mə tɪv/
adjective, Philosophy, Linguistics.
(of an expression or statement) performing an act by the very fact of being uttered, as with the expression “I promise,” that performs the act of promising.
a performative utterance.
Compare constative.
Origin of performative
1950-55; perform + -ative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for performative


adjective (linguistics, philosophy)
  1. denoting an utterance that constitutes some act, esp the act described by the verb. For example, I confess that I was there is itself a confession, and so is performative in the narrower sense, while I'd like you to meet … (effecting an introduction) is performative only in the looser sense See also locutionary act, illocution, perlocution
  2. (as noun): that sentence is a performative
  1. denoting a verb that may be used as the main verb in such an utterance
  2. (as noun): ``promise'' is a performative
Derived Forms
performatively, adverb
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 performative

1955, adjective and noun, coined by British philosopher of language J.L. Austin (1911-1960), from perform + -ive.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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