June 14, 2011
- perfunctory (adjective)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : done mechanically or carelessly2 : lacking in interest or enthusiasm : indifferent
- How do you use it?
- Ethan's work in science was only perfunctory until his new teacher managed to fire up his imagination.
- Are you a word wiz?
Which one of these sentences do you think uses "perfunctory" correctly?You're not being careless if you picked C. Sentence A doesn't work because the sister who does so well most likely gives her best effort, not a careless or indifferent one, and so cannot be correctly described as "perfunctory." You can eliminate sentence B because it uses "perfunctory" in place of the noun "conservatory" in referring to a school for musicians. In sentence D, "perfunctory" studies wouldn't help Doug much in his travels; however, "compulsory" (meaning "required") language study would. That leaves us with sentence C and the mechanical smile of the politician.