Definition of performative in English:


Line breaks: per¦forma|tive
Pronunciation: /pəˈfɔːmətɪv
Linguistics & Philosophy


  • Relating to or denoting an utterance by means of which the speaker performs a particular act (e.g. I bet, I apologize, I promise). Often contrasted with constative.
    More example sentences
    • Rather, these are performative utterances, which do not so much say something as do something.
    • He thinks performative sentences do not have truth conditions because they do not describe or report anything.
    • But if literary language is performative and if a performative utterance is not true or false but felicitous or infelicitous, what does it mean for a literary utterance to be felicitous or infelicitous?


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  • A performative utterance: here statements are not descriptive utterances but performatives
    More example sentences
    • Performative utterances, or performatives, are not true or false and actually perform the action to which they refer.
    • Such speech acts, called performatives, cannot be said to be true or false.
    • Illocutionary acts, in addition to covering such explicit performatives as promising, also include statements.

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