Performance has to do with doing something: a concert or play is a performance, and if you want to talk about how well the actors did, you'd rate their performance.

The main sense of performance is artsy: actors and musicians (and other performers) give performances. You could praise an actor's performance in a movie, but this word extends to other kinds of work and accomplishments as well. If you're failing math, your performance is below par. An athlete can get in trouble for taking performance-enhancing drugs: drugs that make their performance better. Anytime you're talking about how something or someone works — or performs — you're talking about performance.

Primary Meanings of performance

the act of performing; of doing something successfully; using knowledge as distinguished from merely possessing it
process or manner of functioning or operating
any recognized accomplishment
Full Definitions of performance

n the act of performing; of doing something successfully; using knowledge as distinguished from merely possessing it

“they criticised his performance as mayor”
“experience generally improves performance
carrying into action, carrying out, execution
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specific performance
the performance of a legal contract as specified by its terms
linguistic performance
(linguistics) a speaker's actual use of language in real situations; what the speaker actually says, including grammatical errors and other non-linguistic features such as hesitations and other disfluencies (contrasted with linguistic competence)
mechanics, mechanism
the technical aspects of doing something
the performance of a religious or ceremonial or public duty
Type of:
something done (usually as opposed to something said)

n the act of presenting a play or a piece of music or other entertainment

“we congratulated him on his performance at the rehearsal”
“an inspired performance of Mozart's C minor concerto”
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dramatic performance, dramatic production
the act of performing a drama
an extra or repeated performance; usually given in response to audience demand
extemporisation, extemporization, improvisation
a performance given extempore without planning or preparation
juggle, juggling
throwing and catching several objects simultaneously
conjuration, conjuring trick, deception, illusion, legerdemain, magic, magic trick, thaumaturgy, trick
an illusory feat; considered magical by naive observers
musical performance
the act of performing music
one-night stand
a performance in one place on one night only
interpretation, rendering, rendition
the act of interpreting something as expressed in an artistic performance
last hurrah, swan song
a final performance or effort (especially before retirement)
program, programme
a performance (or series of performances) at a public presentation
a new or different interpretation
a distinctive interpretation (especially as used by politicians to sway public opinion)
the act of playing a musical instrument
jam session
an impromptu jazz concert
singing, vocalizing
the act of singing vocal music
the entertainment offered at a public presentation
card trick
a trick performed with playing cards
prestidigitation, sleight of hand
manual dexterity in the execution of tricks
Type of:
demonstration, presentation, presentment
a show or display; the act of presenting something to sight or view

n a dramatic or musical entertainment

“they listened to ten different performances
“the play ran for 100 performances
“the frequent performances of the symphony testify to its popularity”
public presentation
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act, bit, number, routine, turn
a short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program
a performance to raise money for a charitable cause
a performance of music by players or singers not involving theatrical staging
performance by or technique of a pianist
play reading
performance of a play by a group of readers
the first public performance of a play or movie
performance of music or dance especially by soloists
rendering, rendition
a performance of a musical composition or a dramatic role etc.
song and dance
theatrical performance combining singing and dancing
histrionics, representation, theatrical, theatrical performance
a performance of a play
a lavishly produced performance
world premiere
(music) the first public performance (as of a dramatic or musical work) anywhere in the world
show-stopper, showstopper, stopper
an act so striking or impressive that the show must be delayed until the audience quiets down
benefit concert
a concert given for the benefit of some charitable cause
rock concert
a performance of rock music
a theatrical performance held during the daytime (especially in the afternoon)
Type of:
a social event involving a public performance or entertainment

n process or manner of functioning or operating

“they compared the cooking performance of each oven”
“the jet's performance conformed to high standards”
functioning, operation
Type of:
physical process, process
a sustained phenomenon or one marked by gradual changes through a series of states

n any recognized accomplishment

“they admired his performance under stress”
“when Roger Maris powered four home runs in one game his performance merits awe”
better than expected performance (better than might have been predicted from intelligence tests)
poorer than expected performance (poorer than might have been predicted from intelligence tests)
Type of:
accomplishment, achievement
the action of accomplishing something

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