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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.