Perfunctory means carrying out a task with minimal effort or enthusiasm, lacking interest or care.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



Careless, cursory, routine, mechanical, indifferent, unenthusiastic, apathetic, half-hearted, superficial, automatic, hasty.


Thorough, attentive, diligent, meticulous, earnest, enthusiastic, interested, passionate, thought-out, careful.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun None
Verb None
Adjective perfunctory
Adverb perfunctorily

Example Sentences

  • The politician’s speech was nothing but a perfunctory recitation of clichés that failed to address the real issues.

  • The employee’s perfunctory approach to his duties was the reason for his lack of promotion.

  • The receptionist’s perfunctory smile was not enough to alleviate the frustration of the customers who had been waiting in line for a long time.

  • The teacher’s grading of the assignments was done in a perfunctory manner, which resulted in missed opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes.


Perfunctory is a commonly used adjective that is often used to describe something or someone that is done with little effort or interest, without any genuine care or attention to detail. The word can describe anything that is done in a mechanical, routine or automatic way without much thought or enthusiasm.

The word perfunctory is derived from the Latin word ‘perfunctus’ which means “to get done with.” It incorporates the prefix “per-”, which means “done thoroughly,” and “functus,” which means “to perform.” Thus, the word ‘perfunctory’ essentially means “to get something done without serious effort.”

Perfunctory can be used in the context of a wide range of situations, from describing an employee’s lack of enthusiasm at work, to describing a politician’s insincere speech or gesture, to describing a robotic or unemotional interaction with someone. The word can be used to describe both people and actions or tasks.

Perfunctory can be used with a range of suffixes to modify its meaning, such as ‘perfunctorily,’ which means to do something in a perfunctory manner, or ‘unperfunctory,’ which means to not be perfunctory. The root word ‘funct’ is also used in other English words such as ‘function’ and ‘dysfunctional’.

Overall, the word perfunctory is a versatile adjective that can be used to convey a lack of effort or interest in a diverse range of contexts. Its wide-ranging usage makes it a popular word in literary works, academic writing, and everyday conversation.