v. per·formed, per·form·ing, per·forms
1. To begin and carry through to completion; do: The surgeon performed the operation.
2. To take action in accordance with the requirements of; fulfill: perform one's contractual obligations.
a. To enact (a feat or role) before an audience.
b. To give a public presentation of; present: My theater group performed a three-act play.
1. To function or accomplish something as expected or required: a car that performs well on curves; workers not performing up to standard.
2. To yield a return on investment: stocks that performed well.
3. To portray a role or demonstrate a skill before an audience: The juggler performed atop a unicycle.
4. To present a dramatic or musical work or other entertainment before an audience.
[Middle English performen, from Anglo-Norman performer, from Old French parfornir : par-, intensive pref. (from Latin per-, per-) + fournir, to furnish; see FURNISH.]
Synonyms: perform, execute, accomplish, achieve
These verbs signify to carry through to completion. To perform is to carry out an action, undertaking, or procedure, often with great skill or care. The ship's captain performed the wedding ceremony. Laser experiments are performed regularly in the laboratory.
Execute implies performing a task or putting something into effect in accordance with a plan or design: "To execute laws is a royal office; to execute orders is not to be a king" (Edmund Burke).
Accomplish connotes the successful completion of something, often of something that requires tenacity or talent: "Make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week" (Robert Louis Stevenson).
To achieve is to accomplish something, often something significant, especially despite difficulty: "Some are born great ... Some achieve greatness ... And some have greatness thrust upon them" (Shakespeare).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus