Definition of go through the motions in US English:

go through the motions

phrase

  • 1Do something in a perfunctory way, without any enthusiasm or commitment.

    ‘no drive, no ambition; the team was just turning up to go through the motions’
    • ‘It was an exercise in uncomfortableness - Dr. S., dressed in a painfully tight suit, clutching a juice box, went through the motions of interviewing people he disliked and resented.’
    • ‘It amazes me how often we find ourselves inadvertently going through the motions of achieving things, doing everything we know we're supposed or told to do, but eventually not reaching the finish line, or reaching it a bit too late.’
    • ‘Although the Department went through the motions of investigating complaints, its commitment to enforcing the corporal punishment regulations was half-hearted at best.’
    • ‘With stars in my eyes, I went through the motions of finishing high school, followed by junior college and then engineering college.’
    • ‘The existential vacuum is the phenemenon which envelops those who go through the motions without feeling any passion or connection to their accomplishments.’
    • ‘I kept noticing this blank look on her face as if she was just going through the motions… that bored look that just screams, ‘I HATE my job!’’
    • ‘She may have gone through the motions and said the words, but really, the more I think about it, the more it seems that she was never really 100% there.’
    • ‘Their presentation itself took about 20 minutes as they went through the motions of explaining all about the central nervous system.’
    • ‘My family, like every other family in America and around the world, sat glued to the television as our leaders went through the motions of returning the murdered President to Washington.’
    • ‘So Paolo landed up in Luanda and went through the motions of being an infantryman.’
    pretend, put on an act, put it on, play-act, make believe, fake it
    View synonyms
  • 2Simulate an action.

    ‘a child goes through the motions of washing up’
    • ‘He would go through the motions, making them believe they controlled him.’
    • ‘Finneran, as well as William Sadler and Diana Scarwid as Jaye's parents, paint a gloomy portrait of a family only going through the motions of caring, more for show than for any actual concern.’
    • ‘An under-strength squad prepare to take on a leading Test nation and everyone goes through the motions of talking them up, pretending it could be a good contest, looking at the strong points.’
    • ‘Instead of actually using the rope, just pretend and go through the motions.’
    • ‘Unable to stay still under their gaze for any longer, Pete pretended to yawn, and went through the motions of someone waking up.’
    • ‘Try ‘faking’ the swing, just going through the motions casually.’
    • ‘The media initially went through the motions of pretending that this was a real election campaign.’
    • ‘He went through the motions of pretending to write out a ticket for the benefit of the other full price passengers.’
    • ‘I was going through the motions, faking the emotions, wriggling around like a lizard on a tin.’
    • ‘I'm still going through the motions and pretending that this is a democracy in which my opinions matter.’
    • ‘It seems the Government is just going through the motions of consultation.’
    pretend, put on an act, put it on, play-act, make believe, fake it
    View synonyms