Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Late Latin, 16th century
Performed with minimal interest or attention
Examples of Perfunctory in a sentence
"He hugged me limply, a perfunctory gesture at best."
"The weather report seemed perfunctory at this point-- it had been raining for days with no sign of letting up."
One of our most perfunctory words, "Hello," started its life as a method for hailing down the captain of a boat or ferry. It didn't enter common usage until the invention of the telephone in 1877. Inventor Alexander Graham Bell thought that "Ahoy!" should be the official telephone greeting. But Thomas Edison disagreed, preferring "Hello!" Guess which one caught on?
Did you Know?
Some of our most common greetings such as "How are you?" or "What's up?" have become perfunctory-- said out of tradition rather than real desire for an answer.