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


  • (UK) IPA(key): /pəˈfʌŋk.t(ə)ɹɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /pɚˈfʌŋk.tɚ.i/
  • (file)


perfunctory (comparative more perfunctory, superlative most perfunctory)

  1. Done only to fulfil a duty, or in a careless or indifferent manner; performed mechanically and as a thing of rote.
    He did a perfunctory job cleaning his dad's car, finishing quickly but leaving a few spots still dirty.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, chapter VIII, in The Land That Time Forgot:
      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[1], page 55:
      Alternatively it may mean that a perfunctory search is enough to ensure that a purchase is acceptable, so less search is carried out.
    • 2017 July 30, Ali Barthwell, “Ice and fire finally meet in a front-loaded episode of Game Of Thrones (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[2]:
      The second section of the episode charged from Winterfell to Highgarden and Oldtown in a way that felt perfunctory. I found myself asking, “We’re just getting to Winterfell?”



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