“The flight attendant delivered the safety instructions in a perfunctory manner.”
What is the best definition of perfunctory?
Perfunctory (adjective) – in a routine and superficial manner; or, lacking in interest and enthusiasm
Perfunctorily (adverb) – as a matter of formality and typically without interest or enthusiasm
GRE pro tips:
The word perfunctory combines the prefix per- meaning “through” and fungi which translates “to perform” or “to function.” So it makes sense that the adjective refers to something performed in a cursory or superficial manner so as to simply get through with it. Perfunctory acts are carried out as part of a routine or duty, with little care or attention: a perfunctory handshake, for instance, or a perfunctory job folding the laundry. Similarly, when used to describe a person, perfunctory indicates a lack of enthusiasm or care: you may adopt a perfunctory demeanor or attitude, for example, when you’re doing something and you simply want to get it over with.
“They’re Italian, so – when we arrived at their villa – we were greeted with kisses on each cheek rather than perfunctory handshakes.”
“I’d always known Patricia to be perfunctory with strangers, but when she was less than enthusiastic toward me – one of her oldest friends – I knew something was amiss.”