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Definition of "performative" [performative]

  • Relating to or being an utterance that peforms an act or creates a state of affairs by the fact of its being uttered under appropriate or conventional circumstances, as a justice of the peace uttering I now pronounce you husband and wife at a wedding ceremony, thus creating a legal union, or as one uttering I promise, thus performing the act of promising. (adjective)
  • A performative utterance. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "performative" in a sentence
  • "It's true that I'm interested in performative "ways of reading," in tone itself, and in a poet whose tone remains perplexing, and whose affect feels excessive, to many readers."
  • "Is it simply "performative" -- a space where feelings and reactions can be more safely aired than in physical spaces?"
  • "Umpires' calls are what philosophers of language call "performative utterances"—their say-so is what makes it so."