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Perfunctory   /pərfˈəŋktəri/   Listen
Perfunctory

adjective
1.
Hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough.  Synonyms: casual, cursory, passing.  "A passing glance" , "Perfunctory courtesy"
2.
As a formality only.  Synonym: pro forma.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Perfunctory" Quotes from Famous Books



... while boyishly exhaling this enthusiasm he was also divesting himself of certain bundles whose contents seemed to imply that he had brought his dinner with him,—the youthful Mrs. Harcourt setting the table in a perfunctory, listless way that contrasted oddly with ...
— A First Family of Tasajara • Bret Harte

... we did not talk much. By-and-bye, he was tired, and remounted his donkey, but we still kept side by side, Innocentina sending at intervals a perfunctory cry of "Fanny-anny," from a distance, by way of keeping the small brown ...
— The Princess Passes • Alice Muriel Williamson and Charles Norris Williamson

... the conference. It resumed, that night, in Flint's luxurious study at "Idle Hour," his superb estate on the Palisades. Waldron paid only a perfunctory court to Catherine, who manifested her pleasure by studied indifference. Both magnates felt relieved when she withdrew. They had other and larger matters under way than any dealing with the ...
— The Air Trust • George Allan England

... of course, will see about her fortune. He has only a perfunctory duty—to see that the fortune is not squandered. But he is safe there. Maiden ladies never squander! And the girl, being only seventeen, can't possibly squander ...
— A Little Rebel • Mrs. Hungerford

... her laugh; it had in it the same sudden recognition that flashed into her eyes, was a burst of humor, short and intelligent. Her rapid footsteps shook her own floors, and she routed lassitude and indifference wherever she came. She could not be negative or perfunctory about anything. Her enthusiasm, and her violent likes and dislikes, asserted themselves in all the every-day occupations of life. Wash-day was interesting, never dreary, at the Harlings'. Preserving-time was a prolonged ...
— My Antonia • Willa Sibert Cather

... nor very good. He didn't seem to be dissipated, or mixed up in any scandal, or to be recklessly extravagant, like so many rich men. On the other hand, I couldn't find that he'd done any particular good in the world. Some charities were mentioned, but they were perfunctory, apparently, and I don't believe, from the accounts, that he ever really INTERESTED himself in any one—that he ever really cared for— ...
— Oh, Money! Money! • Eleanor Hodgman Porter

... Josiah Hilbrook himself began to be lost in the name he had given the place; and except for the perfunctory mention of its founder in the ceremonies of Commencement Day, the university hardly remembered him as a man, but rather regarded him as a locality. He had, in fact, never been an important man in West Mallow, up to the time he had left ...
— A Pair of Patient Lovers • William Dean Howells

... church cantatas, Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt and Man singet mit Freuden vom Sieg. The fine bass aria, "Ein Fuerst ist seines Landes Pan," was obviously ill-proportioned, with its breakneck return to the tonic and its perfunctory close; and Bach's chief concern in adapting it for its place as the aria, "Du bist geboren mir zu Gute," in Also hat Gott, was to remedy this defect. On the other hand, the use of the delightful ritornello for violoncello from the little aria, "Weil die wollenreichen Heerden," in the birthday ...
— Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 3, Part 1, Slice 1 - "Austria, Lower" to "Bacon" • Various

... Anderson and Elizabeth were seated together in the Red Drawing Room. Mrs. Gaddesden, after a little perfunctory conversation with the new-comer, had disappeared on the plea of letters to write. The girl in white, the centre of a large party in the hall, was flirting to her heart's content. Philip would have dearly liked to stay and flirt with her himself; but his mother, ...
— Lady Merton, Colonist • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... thrust it toward the waiting lawyer, who, however, shook his head in refusal, and continued to move about the room rather restlessly. Demarest paid no attention to the other's invitation to a seat, but the courtesy was perfunctory on Gilder's part, and he hardly perceived the perturbation of his caller, for he was occupied in selecting and lighting a cigar with the care of a connoisseur. Finally, he spoke again, and now there was an infinite ...
— Within the Law - From the Play of Bayard Veiller • Marvin Dana

... a warm golden evening, fit for October, and I was watching (with regret) a lot of little black pigs being turned out of my garden, when the postman handed to me, with a perfunctory haste which doubtless masked his emotion, the Declaration of Futurism. If you ask me what Futurism is, I cannot tell you; even the Futurists themselves seem a little doubtful; perhaps they are waiting for the future ...
— Alarms and Discursions • G. K. Chesterton

... conscience, the still, small voice that is urging him ever to righteousness. If the digression is unusual enough, the drag of habit will be heavy enough to cause the unreasoning victim to return and perform the perfunctory thing. "Now, bless me," says such a mind, "I have done my duty," when, as a matter of fact, it has merely done its old, unbreakable ...
— Sister Carrie • Theodore Dreiser

... is always the danger that actors will be content with a rather slurred and perfunctory recitation of lines that have no bearing on the action but are just inserted for joy as ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 147, July 22, 1914 • Various

... had talked so much about their frost protection plans that several of the farmers decided to get some oil-burning fire-pots for use that spring, in the event of a freeze. Jed Tighe, however, one of the few people of the neighborhood who had shown but a perfunctory interest in the League, laughed to scorn the idea of buying the fire-pots, as Fred had suggested in a recent issue of the Review. Even Jed Tighe read the little sheet every week, in ...
— The Boy with the U. S. Weather Men • Francis William Rolt-Wheeler

... thought he saw the figure of a strange man walking over the road; Lemuel knew that he was strange by the formality of the clothes. He wore a hard straw hat, collar and diamond-pinned tie, and a suit with a waistcoat. At first Doret's interest was perfunctory, but as the other drew nearer his inspection changed to a painful absorption. Suddenly his attitude grew tense; he had the appearance of a man gazing at an enthralling but dangerous spectacle, such—for example—as a wall that might topple over, crushing ...
— The Happy End • Joseph Hergesheimer

... be nothing at all original in the methods pursued by the great criminologist when confronted with this tableau of death and robbery. His remarks to the Inspector were few and perfunctory. He asked only a few languid questions of Macdougal and Lenora, who were summoned to ...
— The Black Box • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... buzzing of the gossip bees the person most acutely concerned heard little or nothing. Griswold's intimation to Raymer that he wished only to be a silent partner had been made in good faith; and beyond a few purely perfunctory visits to the plant across the railroad tracks, made because Raymer had insisted that he go over the books and learn for himself the exact condition of the business into which he had put his money, Griswold took no more than an advisory part in ...
— The Price • Francis Lynde

... Harriet's voice was pleasantly commonplace. But the moment had its thrill for her. This lean, tall, tired man, with his abstract manner, his perfunctory courtesies, his nervous, clever hands, loomed in oddly heroic proportions in Harriet's life. His face was keen and somewhat lined under a smooth crest of slightly graying hair; he smiled very rarely, but there was a certain kindliness ...
— Harriet and the Piper - (Norris Volume XI) • Kathleen Norris

... journey—from Si-an in 1900—she had conceived a great liking for travel and enjoyed seeing strange sights. Then she wished him a happy voyage and concluded by remarking: "We have chosen to give you some little keepsakes," using the word meaning a "personal souvenir" rather than a formal and perfunctory "present." It was a moment of natural excitement, and the I.G., dumb with emotion, received the intimation in unflattering silence. "Thank," said the Minister who presented him, in agonized tones; and ...
— Sir Robert Hart - The Romance of a Great Career, 2nd Edition • Juliet Bredon

... "The question was perfunctory; Lee Fu knew well enough that my decision was in his hands. I stood up—for until now I had been chained to my chair by the ...
— The Best Short Stories of 1921 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story • Various

... lips moved but made no sound. Constance after a moment's hesitation came nearer still, and bending forward kissed her cheek, not in a perfunctory way, but with a lingering, loving kiss; and after the kiss she still lingered close, so that the breath from her lips came warm and fragrant on the other's cold pale cheek. But her mother spoke no word, and remained cold and motionless as a statue, until with a slight ...
— Fan • Henry Harford

... made some perfunctory remark, attributing the situation to a lack of efficiency, while Matt Peasley went back to his office and grieved as he reflected on the corrosive action of salt water on ...
— Cappy Ricks Retires • Peter B. Kyne

... be to relate the events of one sad day which culminated in her declaiming at night, with far more than perfunctory warmth, and in a voice ...
— The Lions of the Lord - A Tale of the Old West • Harry Leon Wilson

... coldly indifferent to many things commonly counted chief matters of life. One of these was religion; another was woman. His punctuality at church at the head of Rosemont's cadets was so obviously perfunctory as to be without a stain of hypocrisy. Yet he never vaunted his scepticism, but only let it exhale from him in interrogative insinuations that the premises and maxims of religion were refuted by the ...
— John March, Southerner • George W. Cable

... shoulders and the drop at their snuffy nose—I thought I would rather claim kinship with the dogs than with the men! My sympathy was unreturned; in their eyes I was a creature light as air; and they would scarce spare me the time for a perfunctory caress or perhaps a hasty lap of the wet tongue, ere they were back again in sedulous attendance on those dingy deities, their masters—and their masters, as like ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 20 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... the Public School. Four of the six—the dramatic, the artistic, the musical, and the constructive—are entirely or almost entirely neglected. Music and Handwork[27] are "extras" (a fatally significant word); the teaching of Drawing is, as a rule, quite perfunctory; and Acting is not a recognised part of the school curriculum. The truth is that marks are not given for these "subjects"—for in the eyes of the schoolmaster they are all "subjects"—in any entrance or scholarship examination, and that therefore ...
— What Is and What Might Be - A Study of Education in General and Elementary Education in Particular • Edmond Holmes

... just as we were about to resume our journey, we saw two Manu Mea appear. Keeping perfectly quiet, we watched them moving about, scratching up the leaves, and picking at the ground in an aimless, perfunctory sort of manner with their heavy, thick bills. The natives told me that they were searching, not for yams, but for a sweet berry called masa'oi, upon which the wild ...
— The Call Of The South - 1908 • Louis Becke

... be checked. Haughtily ignoring the rest of the company, he paced to the head of the table, where he made perfunctory obeisance. ...
— Millennium • Everett B. Cole

... searched me for contraband letters when our cart stopped on the Belgian side of a barricade at Maastricht, with Dutch soldiers on the other side. His examination was a little perfunctory, almost apologetic, and he did want to be friendly. You guessed that he was thinking he would like to go around the corner and have "ein Glas Bier" rather than search me. What a hearty "Auf wiedersehen!" he gave me when he saw that I was ...
— My Year of the War • Frederick Palmer

... was fond of exercise, but it bored him to talk of it. The men's smoking-room anecdotes did not amuse him, he was unmoved by the fluctuations of the stock-market, he could not tell one card from another, and his perfunctory attempts at billiards had once caused Mr. Langhope to murmur, in his daughter's hearing: "Ah, that's the test—I ...
— The Fruit of the Tree • Edith Wharton

... room after his guests, muttering an unintelligible apology. He shook hands with them with an abstracted air and failed to recall Wargrave's name. At table he asked Frank a few perfunctory questions and then wandered off into his inevitable subject, entomology, but finding him ignorant of and uninterested in it he engaged in a desultory conversation with Raymond. He soon tired of this and for the most part ate his dinner in silence. He never addressed his wife; ...
— The Jungle Girl • Gordon Casserly

... would lie in his path in case he exercised his leadership in the matter of Martine's selection to the United States Senate. They suggested that the vote for Martine had no binding force; that it was a mere perfunctory expression of preference in the matter of the United States senatorship which the Legislature was free to ignore. The only man, therefore, who could make the vote effective was the Governor-elect himself. What he would do in these circumstances was for days after ...
— Woodrow Wilson as I Know Him • Joseph P. Tumulty

... men to be freed at once. To her dismay, the judge announced that both would be held for trial, without bail, following perfunctory statements from Plenty Buffalo, Walter Lowell, and Sheriff Tom Redmond, relating to later events in the tragedy. As in a dream Helen saw some of the spectators starting to leave and Redmond's deputy beckon to his prisoners, when Walter Lowell rose and asked permission to address the court ...
— Mystery Ranch • Arthur Chapman

... performed with a formal, perfunctory style calculated to impress the audience with the importance of the preacher rather than the words he was speaking. The audience was very quiet, having the air of ...
— A Voice in the Wilderness • Grace Livingston Hill

... thought that, as I was to go to Oxford, it would be better that I should study under an Oxford man. I never had the slightest natural bent for mathematics, though I did the tasks that were imposed upon me in a perfunctory manner, and with sufficient accuracy just to satisfy ...
— Philip Gilbert Hamerton • Philip Gilbert Hamerton et al

... confirmation paper called Purity the Guard of Manhood, a paper which an Eton master pronounced the best thing he had met with of the kind, and which has been widely used. Do not rest content with merely giving the paper in a perfunctory way, but follow it up with a few living, earnest ...
— The Power of Womanhood, or Mothers and Sons - A Book For Parents, And Those In Loco Parentis • Ellice Hopkins

... hopeless of the permanence of our Government if this is to be the example set by one of the Houses of Congress, that which claims to be more sedate and deliberate, if it proposes in this light and perfunctory way to deal with questions of this grave nature and import. Sir, there is no time at present for that preparation which such a subject demands at the hands of any sensible man, mindful of his responsibilities, who ...
— History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage

... French sat together; the Russians were apart; and the Americans in still another section. There was no real intermingling, no real camaraderie, except among the individual groups. There was much hand-shaking of course, and greetings and perfunctory politeness, but no genuine friendliness. The various ministers, for instance, did not sit together as ministers, off on a holiday. On the contrary, each one sat at the table with his countrymen. Over all there was a ...
— Peking Dust • Ellen N. La Motte

... and this defection of youth was a thing which the Priests bitterly contested. Ramon was perfectly willing to make a polite compromise with them. If Father Lugaria had been satisfied with an occasional appearance at early mass, a perfunctory confession now and then, the two might have been friends. But the Priest made Ramon a special object of his attention. He continually went to the Dona Delcasar with complaints and that devout woman incessantly nagged her son, holding before him always pictures of the damnation ...
— The Blood of the Conquerors • Harvey Fergusson

... had he put on his specs, and begun to focus his fowl, than he suddenly started up, rang for the cook, and after having vociferated at her carelessness, and lectured her for being so extremely perfunctory and disorderly in not keeping the cat out of the cupboard, till his appetite for scolding was pretty well satisfied, he paused for her apology: the guardian genius of the pantry, to his extreme astonishment, ...
— The Cook's Oracle; and Housekeeper's Manual • William Kitchiner

... Jack, rising, "and, sir, I wish a word with you." Here, however, remembering myself and Bentley, he introduced us—though in a very perfunctory fashion, ...
— The Honourable Mr. Tawnish • Jeffery Farnol

... thoughtfulness, by words of sympathy in my hard battle of life when I am present, or by genial letters when absent? I have spent three hot days in the city seeking chiefly your interest, and a more mechanical, perfunctory thing never existed than your kiss of greeting to-night. There was as much feeling in it as in the quarter that I handed to the stage-driver. I have spent thousands on your education, but you don't sing for me, you don't read to me, you never think ...
— A Young Girl's Wooing • E. P. Roe

... attorney's argument was cool, dispassionate, perfunctory. He showed no interest in securing a conviction for the very simple reason that he felt none. Brisbane was a further, deeper disappointment. He failed to live up to the reputation that had preceded him. He constantly studied ...
— The Short Cut • Jackson Gregory

... a part of his gift. Adriance always said not only the right thing, but the opportune, graceful, exquisite thing. His phrases took the color of the moment and the then-present condition, so that they never savored of perfunctory compliment or frequent usage. He always caught the lyric essence of the moment, the poetic suggestion of every situation. Moreover, he usually did the right thing, the opportune, graceful, exquisite thing—except, when he ...
— The Troll Garden and Selected Stories • Willa Cather

... be that He find.' That is an awful if, when we think of what lies below it. The thing seems an absurdity when it is spoken, and yet it is a grim fact in many a life—viz. that Christ's effort can fail and be thwarted. Not that His search is perfunctory or careless, but that we shroud ourselves in darkness through which that love can find no way. It is we, not He, that are at fault when He fails to find that which He seeks. There is nothing more certain than that God, and Christ the image of God, desire the rescue ...
— Expositions of Holy Scripture - St. Matthew Chaps. IX to XXVIII • Alexander Maclaren

... Nymphidius and other prominent Imperialists have, of course, defended their master; but their apologies, it is felt, were somewhat perfunctory and half-hearted. In allusion to the lamented demise of the Dowager Empress, it was pointed out that pity and loyalty alike should forbid trampling on a Ruler bowed down by repeated domestic bereavements; and attempts were made to enlist sympathy for the Imperial Orphan. These, however, ...
— The Casual Ward - academic and other oddments • A. D. Godley

... stiffly and gave her hostess a perfunctory peck on her cheek. "We left Cousin Betty Throckmorton's this morning," she said with a toss of ...
— The Comings of Cousin Ann • Emma Speed Sampson

... feu de joie that never ceased, and listening to it we knew that we ought to feel happy and elated. The driver of our fiacre was fat and rubicund, he wore a green coat, brass buttons, and a shiny top hat, and looked as if he drank constantly. His jollity was perfunctory, I know, and covered a grasping nature, but it was very well imitated, like everything in Paris. As he whirled us, with a whip-report like a pistol-shot, into the train of traffic in the middle of the street, we felt that we were indeed in the ...
— A Voyage of Consolation - (being in the nature of a sequel to the experiences of 'An - American girl in London') • Sara Jeannette Duncan

... bread eaten in secret is pleasant'; and it would be hard to define how much Gillian's satisfaction was owing to the sense of benevolence, or to the pleasure of eluding Aunt Jane, when, after going through her chapter of Katharine Ashton, in a somewhat perfunctory manner, she hastened away to Miss White's office. This, being connected with the showroom, could be entered without passing through the gate with the inscription—-'No admittance except on business.' Indeed, the office had a private door, which, at Gillian's signal, was always opened to ...
— Beechcroft at Rockstone • Charlotte M. Yonge

... well enough, pa, you know!" she said, slightly disengaging his arm, but adding a perfunctory little squeeze to his elbow to soften the separation. "I always had an idea SOMETHING would happen. I suppose I'm looking like a fright," she added; "but ma made me hurry to get ...
— A Millionaire of Rough-and-Ready • Bret Harte

... expensiveness that the principle of waste invades the domain of the canons of ritual serviceability. It touches the ways as well as the means, and draws on vicarious leisure as well as on vicarious consumption. Priestly demeanor at its best is aloof, leisurely, perfunctory, and uncontaminated with suggestions of sensuous pleasure. This holds true, in different degrees of course, for the different cults and denominations; but in the priestly life of all anthropomorphic cults the marks of a vicarious consumption ...
— The Theory of the Leisure Class • Thorstein Veblen

... was perfunctory. Well he knew that telephone or special messenger would speedily have advised him if news of the Andromeda had arrived since he left the office on Saturday afternoon. But it is said that drowning men clutch at straws, and the metaphor might be applied to Verity ...
— The Stowaway Girl • Louis Tracy

... reunion became less probable. It was as if a sickness long smouldering in him had broken out and become acute, enveloping him in the Nessus-shirt of his memories. There were moments when, to his memory, their actual embraces seemed perfunctory, accidental, compared with this deep deliberate imprint ...
— The Glimpses of the Moon • Edith Wharton

... success, but justice compels me to say that Thackeray was not a good editor. As he would have been an indifferent civil servant, an indifferent member of Parliament, so was he perfunctory as an editor. It has sometimes been thought well to select a popular literary man as an editor; first, because his name will attract, and then with an idea that he who can write well himself will be a competent judge of the writings of others. The first may sell a magazine, but will hardly ...
— Thackeray • Anthony Trollope

... life of mediaerval Egypt, and he selects a period approaching the close of the fifteenth century as the probable date of collection, though some of the tales are, he believes, rather later" (p. 189). Mr. Lane's studies upon the subject were painfully perfunctory. He distinctly states (Preface, p. xii.) that "the work was commenced and completed by one man," or at least that "one man completed what another commenced." With a marvellous want of critical acumen he could not distinguish ...
— Supplemental Nights, Volume 6 • Richard F. Burton

... brought about by the ingenious Dare. Dare's timely suggestion of tendering assistance had the practical result of relieving the other of all necessity for occupying his time with the proceeding, further than to bestow a perfunctory superintendence now and then, to give a colour to his regular presence in the fortress, the actual work of taking copies being carried on ...
— A Laodicean • Thomas Hardy

... tell, Miss F'raishy—sho'," Mingo assented, with great heartiness. But Mrs. Bivins's volubility would hardly wait for this perfunctory indorsement. She talked as she arranged the dishes, and occasionally she would hold a piece of crockery suspended in the air as she emphasised her words. She dropped into a mortuary strain—"Poor pa! I don't never have nuthin' ...
— Mingo - And Other Sketches in Black and White • Joel Chandler Harris

... luck in a rather perfunctory tone, considering his vehemence of a moment earlier. All the fire seemed suddenly to ...
— Far to Seek - A Romance of England and India • Maud Diver

... a proper immigration law ought to be to secure by a careful and not merely perfunctory educational test some intelligent capacity to appreciate American institutions and act sanely as American citizens. This would not keep out all anarchists, for many of them belong to the intelligent criminal ...
— State of the Union Addresses of Theodore Roosevelt • Theodore Roosevelt

... to her lips, the clasp of the strong arms reassuring. Yet, in her present state of depression, she was inclined to distrust even that which consoled, and there seemed a lack in the fervour of this embrace. Was it not just a trifle perfunctory, as of one who pays toll, rather than of one who claims ...
— The History of Sir Richard Calmady - A Romance • Lucas Malet

... important details in relation to the lives and works of the Old Masters whose handicraft greeted us murally on every side, I soon dispensed with his services and took over his task. Whereas he had been content to dismiss this or that artist with but a perfunctory line, I preferred to give dates, ...
— Fibble, D. D. • Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb

... With a perfunctory good-bye, he swung into the saddle, leaving McCrae, a sombre figure, leaning against the slip bars of the corral. He had anticipated this outcome; but, nevertheless, he was disappointed, vaguely apprehensive. In vain ...
— Desert Conquest - or, Precious Waters • A. M. Chisholm

... his marriage the career of the Prince of Wales was one of initiation into the responsibilities of home life and the duties of public life. It was a period of moulding influences and a round of functions—some perfunctory, some pleasant. It was a time of trial for a very young man placed in a very high position, and with temptations which might easily have led him into temporary and even permanent forgetfulness of the responsibilities of the future. Several causes, ...
— The Life of King Edward VII - with a sketch of the career of King George V • J. Castell Hopkins

... frightened to death. Mrs. West rushed through the second verse of the song, bowed breathlessly, and ran down the steps of the stage and back to the refuge of the balcony, while the audience applauded with perfunctory politeness and called clamorously to the ...
— Cinderella - And Other Stories • Richard Harding Davis

... assent to her explanation: "How's Van Horn?" he asked casually. "And Stone?" he added, with undiminished interest. "All well," was his echo to her perfunctory answers. "Say, Belle, was ...
— Laramie Holds the Range • Frank H. Spearman

... recalled in the past dozen years by either party to the transaction. But it was true that Nelson Richards had always had a warm spot in his affections for his first sweetheart, and the cordiality of his greeting was by no means perfunctory. ...
— Other People's Business - The Romantic Career of the Practical Miss Dale • Harriet L. Smith

... guardianship of the infant soul, she yet permits parents to stand as sponsors in order to accommodate every variety of circumstance and need, and to save the office of sponsor from ever being merely a formal or perfunctory thing." ...
— The Worship of the Church - and The Beauty of Holiness • Jacob A. Regester

... stiff as those that pass between a visiting statesman and the local yeomanry at a rural reception. Lawrence, Paul, and Alec undoubtedly hated this perfunctory annual tribute to the head of the house of Montgomery, but Amzi liked the perpetuation of his father's house as a family center. It did not matter that greed and sentimentalism were back of his sisters' ...
— Otherwise Phyllis • Meredith Nicholson

... female protection against the wiles of a designing widow, and established, at great cost, with his niece in the noble and ancient mansion of her desire. There were subsidiary love-episodes, of course, but these, though novel in some particulars, were relatively perfunctory. The character of James Ollerenshaw was the real matter ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, February 25, 1914 • Various

... than this scientific and dutiful soldier; there was at bottom of Moltke's nature a fine sense of proportion, an artistic vein, and, not the least element, a Christian philosophy of life just as far removed from mere perfunctory indifferentism as from cocksure dogmatic bigotry and self-sufficiency. We have striking evidence of this in the Trostgedanken, the Consolatory Thoughts on the Earthly Life and a Future Existence, which he laid down as the last literary ...
— The German Classics of The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Vol. X. • Kuno Francke

... and instead there had been abrupt pauses and awkward silences, and then, at what should have been the supreme moment, the lady in white had asked for a cigarette. And the two hasty little kisses that had a sort of perfunctory air, and the queer, jerky "good-byes," and the last stop near the door of the hotel—it all had an air of being very badly done. It could not have been a success ...
— Adam Johnstone's Son • F. Marion Crawford

... And with a perfunctory attempt at a more lover-like attitude, he turned to Elsa, who already had jumped to her feet, and with a pleasant smile was holding up her sweet face to her ...
— A Bride of the Plains • Baroness Emmuska Orczy

... himself, a yearning for virtue is not always obvious, for he seems at times to take an unholy delight in contemplating his own failings, as witness the Epistle to Lapraik, and his repentance seems merely perfunctory, as in the lines, ...
— The Poet's Poet • Elizabeth Atkins

... refined taste, a foe to all emotional scenes, sat with staring eyes and as if hypnotized, cutting a piece of fruit with the end of his fork into strips as thin as cigarette papers. The Governor, on the contrary, went through a pantomime expressive of perfunctory admiration, with exclamations of horror and compassion; while, in striking contrast to him, and not far away, Brahim Bey, the thunderbolt of war, in whom the reading of the article, followed by discussion after a substantial repast, had induced a refreshing nap, was sleeping soundly, ...
— The Nabob, Volume 1 (of 2) • Alphonse Daudet

... own name correctly given was only equaled by the admiration I also felt for my companion's complete and absolute assurance. Mr. Cullen and I exchanged a perfunctory handshake, which left me without any change in my ...
— An Amiable Charlatan • E. Phillips Oppenheim

... a middle-aged man who wore a velvet skull-cap and who was smoking a Pittsburg stogie, met the farmer at the counter and the two exchanged perfunctory greetings. ...
— A Deal in Wheat - And Other Stories of the New and Old West • Frank Norris

... looked grave. But he duly noted down the testimony, after some perfunctory cross-examination, and, it being read over to the witness, the judge added "Lecture faite," and the persisting witness signed the deposition with his own hand. The prosecutor having retired, two other witnesses, whom he had vouched to warranty, came forward and testified ...
— Leaves from a Field Note-Book • J. H. Morgan

... inevitable—in his case. He returned at once to his original intention of taking Orders, as if the intervening military and banking career had been nothing more than an interruption of his normal course. Nor was it merely perfunctory performance of clerical duties to which he looked forward: he was in earnest, and began by making use of his former classical knowledge to take up a serious study of the New Testament in the original language. He seems to have been in advance of his age in this respect; for when he ...
— Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters - A Family Record • William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh

... among the officers and men in the field, but you hear it on all sides now, uttered with a sincerity and earnestness that is peculiarly impressive. The new style of saying "good-bye" has at least the merit of being no longer a perfunctory ...
— New York Times Current History: The European War, Vol 2, No. 1, April, 1915 - April-September, 1915 • Various

... usual ceremony, announcing that he was most happy, etc., in the perfunctory style that a million other men follow every day. Then he took the chair that was offered him, and gave an order for his breakfast to ...
— A Black Adonis • Linn Boyd Porter

... day she repaired to the puppies and fed them, but came away when this perfunctory ceremony was accomplished; and she was glad enough to have a governess bring them up. She made no quarrel with Em'ly, and the two understood each other perfectly. I have never seen among animals any arrangement so civilized and so perverted. It made ...
— The Virginian - A Horseman Of The Plains • Owen Wister

... boiling; the second she could not finish for her tears; the third dried her eyes with the fires of fierce resentment. It was not so much what they said; it was what they were obviously afraid to say. It was their circumlocution, their innuendo, their mild surprise, their perfunctory congratulations, their assumption of chivalry and their lack of its essence, that wounded and stung the subject of these effusions. As she raised her flushed face from the last of them, Mr. Steel stood before her once more, the incarnation of ...
— The Shadow of the Rope • E. W. Hornung

... may have sufficed during the past score of years to change the public mind in this matter, I am not ready to say; but, surely, it has not been the general thought that sculpture is anything more than an expensive and perfunctory way of doing one's duty to a great occasion or a great man. This, however, is temporary. The good sculpture exists and will be recognized. So much ...
— The American Architect and Building News, Vol. 27, Jan-Mar, 1890 • Various

... mother an "Oriental," or Uruguayan. No priest had visited the village for three years, and the children were respectively one and two years of age. The sponsors included the local commandante and a married couple from Austria. In answer to what was supposed to be the perfunctory question whether they were Catholics, the parents returned the unexpected answer that they were not. Further questioning elicited the fact that the father called himself a "free- thinking Catholic," and the mother said she was a "Protestant ...
— Through the Brazilian Wilderness • Theodore Roosevelt

... and spavined piano, despondent growling of a broken-winded 'cello, nervous giggling and moaning of an excoriated violin—the three wringing from the score of O You Beautiful Doll an entirely adequate accompaniment to the perfunctory performance ...
— The Day of Days - An Extravaganza • Louis Joseph Vance

... Although Lord John was sixty, and burdened with the cares of State, if not with the cares of office, he cheerfully accepted the task. Though it must be admitted that he performed some parts of it in rather a perfunctory manner, the eight volumes which appeared between 1853 and 1856 of the 'Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore' represent a severe tax upon friendship, as well as no ordinary labour on the part of a man who was always more or less ...
— Lord John Russell • Stuart J. Reid

... from a severe illness or shock. They greeted one another with a covert smile, an unobtrusive movement of head or hand; only when under direct observation of an official would they pass without a sign. The usual words were, "How're you feeling?" or, "How're they comin'?" not in the perfunctory tone of greetings in the outer world, but with an accent of real interest and solicitude. The answer would be, "Good!" "Fine!" with as much heartiness as could be thrown into it—though it might be obvious enough that the truth was far from ...
— The Subterranean Brotherhood • Julian Hawthorne

... the Ambroses was, however, somewhat perfunctory, and contained little but the fact that Mr. Ambrose was ...
— The Voyage Out • Virginia Woolf

... Leon shouldered the jewelcase and carried it to the touring car, where Liane superintended its disposal in the luggage-jammed tonneau. A second trip, less laborious, brought them the hamper. Liane uttered perfunctory thanks and called to Jules, who was still tinkering at the limousine engine with the aid of ...
— Alias The Lone Wolf • Louis Joseph Vance

... several more or less perfunctory appearances in a local police court, known as the Central Court, where when arraigned he pleaded not guilty, and finally his appearance before the November grand jury, where, owing to the complicated nature of the charge drawn up against him by Pettie, he ...
— The Financier • Theodore Dreiser

... popularity, seasons his doctrine high, and practises every art for the purpose of obtaining an ascendency over his hearers. But when the Government pays the minister of religion, he has no pressing motive to inflame the zeal of his congregation. He will probably go through his duties in a somewhat perfunctory manner. His power will not be very formidable; and, such as it is, it will be employed in support of that order of things under which he finds himself so comfortable. Now, Sir, it is not necessary to inquire ...
— The Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches of Lord Macaulay, Vol. 4 (of 4) - Lord Macaulay's Speeches • Thomas Babington Macaulay

... very much about Chinatown, except the authorities, and their interference is but perfunctory. The yellow men, after all, are, as Prologue to "Pagliacci" observes, but men like you, for joy or sorrow, the same broad heaven above them, the same wide world before them. They are but men like you, though the sanitary officials may doubt it. They ...
— Nights in London • Thomas Burke

... is a cottage, or the part of a cottage, turned from private to public use. In former times the service was of a very perfunctory character, Providence largely taking the place of post-master while that official attended first to his fishing and then to his duties, and any who had good and valid reason to expect a letter came down to the mail-bag where it lay on the beach ...
— Pearl of Pearl Island • John Oxenham

... to him) Moore's father sold cheese and whisky, le whisky d'Irlande was no doubt his staple commodity in the one branch, but scarcely le fromage de Stilton in the other. An English lawyer's studies are not even now, except at the universities and for purposes of perfunctory examination, very much in "Justinian," and in Moore's time they were still less so. And if Bromham Church is near Sloperton, then it will follow as the night the day that it is not dans le Bedfordshire. But these things matter very little. They are found, in their different kinds, in all ...
— Essays in English Literature, 1780-1860 • George Saintsbury

... name's Irene Beverley," volunteered Elsie Craig, in a perfunctory voice, as if she were performing an obvious duty ...
— The Jolliest School of All • Angela Brazil

... setting itself so feebly, so pitifully, to amend it; the shaping of communities, the social moralities, so distinct from, so adverse to the morality of nature—reflecting, as I say, on these things, Hugh became aware, with a growing astonishment, that though mankind attributed, in an easy and perfunctory way, all these phenomena to the creative hand of God, yet instead of trying to form a conception of Him and His dark thoughts from this legible and gigantic handwriting, which revealed so impenetrable, so imperturbable ...
— Beside Still Waters • Arthur Christopher Benson

... Good-by—bon voyage, Geordie," she cried, blowing a kiss to the lieutenant at the head of the second troop, a youth who blushed and looked confused at the attention thereby centered upon him, and who would fain have shaken his fist, rather than waved the one unoccupied hand in perfunctory reply. "When I go I'll choose a ship with a band and broad decks, not any such cramped old canal boat ...
— Found in the Philippines - The Story of a Woman's Letters • Charles King

... go to the jury as the evidence was all in, and the final arguments of the attorneys, which had started the preceding day, would be concluded during the morning session. It had been conceded that the judge's charge would be brief and perfunctory, and there was even hope that the jury might return a verdict before the close of the afternoon session, but when Bince and his bride entered the court-room they found Torrance's attorney making a motion for the admission of new evidence on the strength of the recent discovery ...
— The Efficiency Expert • Edgar Rice Burroughs

... be so. Fyne caught sight of an approaching tram-car and stepped out on the road to meet it. "Have you a more compassionate scheme ready?" I called after him. He made no answer, clambered on to the rear platform, and only then looked back. We exchanged a perfunctory wave of the hand. We also looked at each other, he rather angrily, I fancy, and I with wonder. I may also mention that it was for the last time. From that day I never set eyes on the Fynes. As usual the unexpected happened to me. It had nothing to do with Flora de Barral. The fact is ...
— Chance - A Tale in Two Parts • Joseph Conrad

... in discovering what he looked like and how he was dressed. I found that a general in war time goes to bed in his underclothes, like an ordinary private. The General got up and went outside and put the spy through a series of questions, but he did so in a very sleepy voice, and with a perfunctory manner which seemed to me to indicate that he was more concerned about getting back to bed than he was in saving the army from danger. He told the officer that it was too late then to carry on the business for which he had come, but that ...
— The Great War As I Saw It • Frederick George Scott

... all his faults he cannot be charged with the stupidity of his class, he must have known that he was talking nonsense. The truth is that as the official mouthpiece of the nation he was merely trying to excuse, in an official perfunctory way, the inexcusable behaviour of the ...
— Books and Persons - Being Comments on a Past Epoch 1908-1911 • Arnold Bennett

... last half mile by Mihul who had fancied the looks of some shrub-cluttered ravines ahead. Trigger opened the door on her side. The gun-pup leaped lightly across the seat and came out behind her. He turned to look over his huntresses and gave them a wag, a polite but perfunctory one. Then he stood ...
— Legacy • James H Schmitz

... been a man of more robust fiber, he would have returned his portfolio to Mr. Wilson as early as 1916, for the President was writing notes to the belligerents and did not, even as a perfunctory courtesy, consult his Secretary of State; he made it only too patent he did not consider his advice worth asking. Mr. Lansing was too fond of his official prominence to surrender it easily, and that is another curious thing about the man. Somewhat vain, holding himself in much higher estimation ...
— The Mirrors of Washington • Anonymous

... nevertheless, was there ever such a farce? The senate had voted that the elections should not be held till the law was passed: that, in case of a tribunician veto, the whole question should be referred to them afresh. The law is introduced in a perfunctory manner: is vetoed, to the great relief of the proposers: the matter is referred to the senate. Upon that the senate voted that it was for the interest of the state that the elections should be held at ...
— The Letters of Cicero, Volume 1 - The Whole Extant Correspodence in Chronological Order • Marcus Tullius Cicero

... light at her shoulder was reflected in the cut steel buckles of her slippers; she had slight but graceful ankles. He recognized this, drawing a sheaf of reports from his brief- case; but, after a perfunctory glance, he dropped them beside him ...
— Cytherea • Joseph Hergesheimer

... away toward dimness dimmer than that of the great hall, in the direction of that wing where rooms had been assigned him. A little rustle of pleased anticipation ran through the petticoats of the room. Interest ceased to be perfunctory and became genuine. This was more fun than doctrine, after all. Who wouldn't be gratified at the chance of meeting an astral body—at least in a crowd? Alone, in a dark room, at midnight, it ...
— Jewel Weed • Alice Ames Winter

... talk while he rested a few minutes, under his burden, propped against a rock. Lydia asked him after a sick grand-daughter. Her question showed knowledge—no perfunctory kindness. ...
— The Mating of Lydia • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... behind the desk we approached grinned amiably and kept it up till, in answer to his perfunctory question, "Sign off and on again?" my Captain answered, "No! Signing off for good." And then his grin vanished in sudden solemnity. He did not look at me again till he handed me my papers with a sorrowful expression, as if they had been my passports ...
— The Shadow-Line - A Confession • Joseph Conrad

... does not open; but there appears through it the indistinct figure of an elderly gentleman with a weak chin and a shifting eye. He stands irresolute and apprehensive; clearly his presence there is perfunctory. Wearing his hat and carrying a hand-bag, he seems merely to have looked in ...
— Angels & Ministers • Laurence Housman

... bayonets begin flashing south of the Danube these heliographs of liberty will light a flame of revolt which second-rate German divisions will be unable to stamp out. With the ground burning under their feet the Teutons will probably evacuate Rumania with only the most perfunctory ...
— World's War Events, Volume III • Various

... twins, intensely excited, watched them as far as Fifth Avenue, then rapidly drawing on their shoes and stockings, scrambled down to the shrubbery and raced for the house. Through it they passed like a double whirlwind; feeble and perfunctory resistance was offered by ...
— The Danger Mark • Robert W. Chambers

... was distinctly less amicable than even on the last occasion of their meeting. They shook hands in rather a perfunctory way. ...
— Born in Exile • George Gissing

... "and, as like as not, be slain by them for my pains. I tell you, brother, that I like it not. No, they are not here," he concluded, as he ran his hand along the tapestry in an exceedingly perfunctory manner without discovering any sign of the missing prisoners. "I am beginning to think, with you, Brother Jose, ...
— Two Gallant Sons of Devon - A Tale of the Days of Queen Bess • Harry Collingwood

... first, he found it out of the question to think it over carefully. How could he, when, within himself, he knew that his feeling for the profession laid down before him by ancestral tradition and by his mother's constant urgings: that his feeling for the ministry was a perfunctory affection, a wholly different matter from the passionate desire that throbbed within him at the thought of giving up his life to scientific study. To preach ancient beliefs that no human power could verify, or to work on steadily, helping to broaden the field of truth, and proving ...
— The Brentons • Anna Chapin Ray

... an interest begotten of pity. The girls whispered and prinked, and exchanged confidences with self-conscious airs. They paid but a perfunctory attention to the drill. It was clear they despised their instructress. Yet they seemed happy ...
— Brother Copas • Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

... was so, he, Wesley Thompson, twenty-five years of age and a minister of the gospel, was deeply in debt—unless he denied the justice of giving value for value received. He had received much; he had returned nothing except perfunctory thanks. And what had he to give? Even to him, transcendent as was his faith that the glory of man was but the reflected glory of God, that faith was not ...
— Burned Bridges • Bertrand W. Sinclair

... majority of our fellow-citizens care as much about literature as they care about aeroplanes or the programme of the Legislature. They do not ignore it; they are not quite indifferent to it. But their interest in it is faint and perfunctory; or, if their interest happens to be violent, it is spasmodic. Ask the two hundred thousand persons whose enthusiasm made the vogue of a popular novel ten years ago what they think of that novel now, and you will gather that they have utterly forgotten it, and ...
— Literary Taste: How to Form It • Arnold Bennett

... A perfunctory glance into his pages will suffice to prove that he lacked what is called the ecclesiastical bent of mind. Reading between the lines, one soon discovers that his is not so much a priest as a statesman and philosopher, a student curious in the lore of mankind and of nature—alert, ...
— South Wind • Norman Douglas

... and mischievous Grace Mainwaring appeared bent on being very friendly towards him—even while she looked curiously at him, as if there were something in her mind. Moreover, she seemed in excellent spirits; there was no perfunctory "drag" in her give-and-take speeches with the adventurous young gentleman whom fate had thrown in her way. He was very well pleased to find the scene going so well; he sang his share in the parting duet with unusual verve; she responded with equal animation; the crowded house ...
— Prince Fortunatus • William Black

... addressed the audience were eloquent enough, they were unprepared, and moreover, were conscious that their listeners were keeping one eye upon the door; in short, everybody present desired only to hear the two appointed speakers; so that the affair was most perfunctory. The minutes grew into hours, and these did not arrive. Mrs. Mason, Mrs. Bateman, even Mary Snow, were sent out to the platform to represent the woman's side, and although they were well received, the meeting broke up at eleven o'clock with a distinct sense of disappointment, not to say failure. ...
— A Woman for Mayor - A Novel of To-day • Helen M. Winslow



Words linked to "Perfunctory" :   careless, formal



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