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Late Latin perfunctorius, from the past participial stem of perfungor, perfunct- (perform, carry through), from per- + fungor



perfunctory (comparative more perfunctory, superlative most perfunctory)

  1. Done merely to discharge a duty; performed mechanically and as a thing of rote; done in a careless and superficial manner; characterized by indifference; as, perfunctory admonitions; aspiring only to minimum standards.
    He did a perfunctory job cleaning his dad's car, finishing quickly but leaving a few spots still dirty.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot Chapter VIII
      I caught the gist of what he was saying--which in effect was that he had found and captured this Galu, that she was his and that he defied anyone to question his right of possession. It appeared to me, as I afterward learned was the fact, that I was witnessing the most primitive of marriage ceremonies. The assembled members of the tribe looked on and listened in a sort of dull and perfunctory apathy, for the speaker was by far the mightiest of the clan.
    • 1992, Peter Bowbrick, The Economics of Quality, Grades, and Brands, p. 55,
      Alternatively it may mean that a perfunctory search is enough to ensure that a purchase is acceptable, so less search is carried out.



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