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[per-fawrm] /pərˈfɔrm/
verb (used with object)
to carry out; execute; do:
to perform miracles.
to go through or execute in the proper, customary, or established manner:
to perform the marriage ceremony.
to carry into effect; fulfill:
Perform what you promise.
to act (a play, part, etc.), as on the stage, in movies, or on television.
to render (music), as by playing or singing.
to accomplish (any action involving skill or ability), as before an audience:
to perform a juggling act.
to complete.
verb (used without object)
to fulfill a command, promise, or undertaking.
to execute or do something.
to act in a play:
to perform in the role of Romeo.
to perform music.
to go through any performance.
(of loans, investments, etc.) to yield a profit; earn income.
Origin of perform
1250-1300; Middle English parformen < Anglo-French parformer, alteration (by association with forme form) of Middle French, Old French parfournir to accomplish. See per-, furnish
Related forms
performable, adjective
performer, noun
misperform, verb
overperform, verb
reperform, verb (used with object)
self-performed, adjective
unperformable, adjective
unperformed, adjective
unperforming, adjective
well-performed, adjective
3. accomplish, achieve, effect.
Synonym Study
1. Perform, discharge, execute, transact mean to carry to completion a prescribed course of action. Perform is the general word, often applied to ordinary activity as a more formal expression than do, but usually implying regular, methodical, or prolonged application or work: to perform an exacting task. Discharge implies carrying out an obligation, often a formal or legal one: to discharge one's duties as a citizen. Execute means either to carry out an order or to carry through a plan or program: to execute a maneuver. Transact, meaning to conduct or manage, has commercial connotations: to transact business. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for performer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In spoken Drama, a performer may begin his career by playing the youthful lovers, and end it by impersonating the heavy fathers.

    Style in Singing W. E. Haslam
  • Then the entire audience shouted one name, demanded one performer only.

    A Nest of Spies Pierre Souvestre
  • Next comes a performer on a round-bodied fiddle (the usual form of the instrument at that time).

    Some Forerunners of Italian Opera William James Henderson
  • It needed only a few seconds to drop over the performer, to burn and smother him.

  • Do you know,” said I, “that I am now a performer in a third-rate travelling circus?

    The Maids of Paradise Robert W. (Robert William) Chambers
British Dictionary definitions for performer


to carry out or do (an action)
(transitive) to fulfil or comply with: to perform someone's request
to present or enact (a play, concert, etc) before or otherwise entertain an audience: the group performed Hamlet
(intransitive) (informal) to accomplish sexual intercourse: he performed well
Derived Forms
performable, adjective
performer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Anglo-Norman perfourmer (influenced by formeform), from Old French parfournir, from par-per- + fournir to provide; see furnish
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 performer

1580s, agent noun from perform (v.). Theatrical sense is from 1711.



c.1300, "carry into effect, fulfill, discharge," via Anglo-French performer, altered (by influence of Old French forme "form") from Old French parfornir "to do, carry out, finish, accomplish," from par- "completely" (see per-) + fornir "to provide" (see furnish).

Theatrical/musical sense is from c.1600. The verb was used with wider senses in Middle English than now, including "to make, construct; produce, bring about;" also "come true" (of dreams), and to performen muche time was "to live long." Related: Performed; performing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for performer



To do a sex act; function sexually: She didn't love him, but liked the way he performed (1916+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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