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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 perfunctory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The conversation was perfunctory, every one's curiosity waiting on Mildred and the crystal.

    The Invader Margaret L. Woods
  • He fell to them with only a perfunctory acknowledgment of my agency in procuring them.

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • "True, sir," said I in perfunctory acknowledgment, but with errant thoughts.

    Simon Dale Anthony Hope
  • He thought it best to give a perfunctory grunt and hope Jeff would go on.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • Opal shook hands with the Boy in her most perfunctory manner.

    One Day Anonymous
British Dictionary definitions for perfunctory


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 perfunctory

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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