Definition of perfunctory in English:



  • (of an action or gesture) carried out with a minimum of effort or reflection.

    ‘he gave a perfunctory nod’
    • ‘Without individualized merit pay, teacher evaluations will remain perfunctory at best.’
    • ‘They are functional but somehow perfunctory, uncompelling.’
    • ‘Anyone with even the most perfunctory interest in classical music will have their own favourite Mozart piece.’
    • ‘It seems likely that this interest was never more than passive or perfunctory.’
    • ‘We have sat through a showcase of set speeches by shadow ministers, but only perfunctory contributions have been allowed from the floor.’
    • ‘He fails in his duty if his investigation is superficial, slipshod or perfunctory.’
    • ‘Excuse us for a perfunctory midweek news roundup this week.’
    • ‘That was why the requirements for the non-enterprise websites had been superficial and perfunctory.’
    • ‘Still, if her attempts to marry wealth are perfunctory, her efforts to increase hers are disastrous.’
    • ‘But its digital download efforts to date have been perfunctory and poorly promoted.’
    • ‘He asked what happened, made some perfunctory enquiries, reset the cord and carried on.’
    • ‘I performed a few perfunctory twirls and made good my escape.’
    • ‘However, this poor, perfunctory effort will do the band more harm than good.’
    • ‘This has resulted in a perfunctory clean-up of the area and a discussion on the lack of funds available to restore the park to an acceptable standard.’
    • ‘After a perfunctory search, the soldiers found nothing suspicious in his vehicle and the incident was written off as a tragic accident.’
    • ‘His comments on these developments were rather brief and perfunctory.’
    • ‘His hands are very soft but quite puffy too, and his shake is straight from the school of perfunctory political politeness.’
    • ‘After the most perfunctory of prefaces, he began to speak quickly, urgently.’
    • ‘Friday's rain-lashed practice session was no more than a few perfunctory laps to give the spectators something to watch.’
    • ‘A perfunctory glance at the painting without having any thought on the substance and the meaning of the work is of little use.’
    cursory, desultory
    quick, brief, hasty, hurried, rapid, passing, fleeting, summary
    token, casual, superficial, uninterested, careless, half-hearted, unthinking, sketchy, mechanical, automatic, routine, offhand, indifferent, inattentive
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from late Latin perfunctorius careless from Latin perfunct- done with, discharged from the verb perfungi.