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[per-fuhngk-tuh-ree] /pərˈfʌŋk tə ri/
performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial:
perfunctory courtesy.
lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic:
In his lectures he reveals himself to be merely a perfunctory speaker.
Origin of perfunctory
1575-85; < Late Latin perfūnctōrius negligent, superficial, derivative of perfungī to do one's job, be done, equivalent to per- per- + fung-, base of fungī to perform, function + -tōrius -tory1
Related forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
1, 2. negligent, heedless, thoughtless, uninterested.
1, 2. careful, diligent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for perfunctorily
Historical Examples
  • She took it from the bag she carried, and he glanced at it perfunctorily.

    The Firefly Of France Marion Polk Angellotti
  • She moved about perfunctorily, with an air of preoccupation.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • Unemotional Archie perfunctorily contributed to the pile an old cloth cap with the peak torn off.

  • They tried him, formally if perfunctorily; he admitted his imposture, and begged for his life.

    Northern Lights Gilbert Parker
  • But when the door had finally closed on him Hepworth let his perfunctorily smiling face relax.

    The Beauty Mrs. Wilson Woodrow
  • Renouard, perfunctorily, did see no reason why he should make a long stay.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • "He didn't say much about you," replied Walter perfunctorily.

    The Eldest Son Archibald Marshall
  • He asked where she was going, a conventional question, perfunctorily put.

    The Wrong Woman Charles D. Stewart
  • When together, Janet and Rosie always talked—not perfunctorily, either, but with much emphasis and many headshakings.

    The Rosie World Parker Fillmore
  • He ran, perfunctorily, through all the foolish turnings and windings of the maze.

    The Combined Maze May Sinclair
British Dictionary definitions for perfunctorily


done superficially, only as a matter of routine; careless or cursory
dull or indifferent
Derived Forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin perfunctōrius negligent, from perfunctus dispatched, from perfungī to fulfil; see function
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 perfunctorily



1580s, from Late Latin perfunctorius "careless, negligent," literally "like one who wishes to get through a thing," from Latin perfungus, past participle of perfungi "discharge, busy oneself, get through," from per- "through" + fungi "perform" (see function (n.)). Related: Perfunctorily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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