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I keep getting the red underlining in Word whenever I write the word "performant". Here I intend to refer to something that performs well or better than something else (ie it's more performant).

Is there something wrong about that word? Does it mean what I actually want to say?

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Though I've never heard it before, it seems to be a viable construction. However, it doesn't have a coherent meaning to me...I don't know what adding the suffix really means (despite what you intend it to mean). –  Mitch Aug 23 '11 at 13:59
I found this question to be very informant. –  JeffSahol Aug 23 '11 at 15:14
Perhaps "performant" is jargon of a particular field. If so, and you are writing for that field, then: either ignore the underline or teach Word to accept "performant". –  GEdgar Aug 23 '11 at 19:11
I came to this discussion because I find the word performant being used more frequently. I believe it stems from the idea that optimal performance is due to a number of factors, not simply defined as speed or efficiency. If I say I want the fastest system, I might get fastest, but with substandard quality. Efficiency is closer, as it suggests the best use of resources for the desired result, but efficiency does suggest that a solution may be more concerned with cost over speed or quality. In my experience, performant suggests that there will be agreement on the appropriate tradeoffs betwee –  user43164 Apr 24 '13 at 22:41

8 Answers 8

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Whether or not "performant" is actually a real word has been debated for some time.

It does not appear in the dictionary, nor does Google definitions include it.

While it has been used before and appears in wiktionary, I would tend to avoid using it until the word becomes, well...a word.

Is there any reason you could not use one of the following instead?

Example A performed better than Example B.


Example A outperformed Example B.

Here is an example of someone who used "performant" extensively only to be told it was not a word. While the research he did on the subject was conducted in 2007, it certainly seems to remain valid today.

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I guess I'll better rewrite that document then :) Thanks! –  alf Aug 23 '11 at 3:13
While you're at it, you might rephrase "performs good". –  TimLymington Aug 23 '11 at 14:10
@TimLymington: I must say "performs good" sounds pretty odd to my ear. The standard expression is "performs well". –  FumbleFingers Aug 23 '11 at 22:00
Performing good is something a paladin might do. He or she might even perform good well. –  Kaz Dragon Apr 25 '13 at 9:32
Another example of usage for performant would be, "I am attempting to make this program more performant." It sounds more intelligent than, "I am attempting to make this program perform better." I think the extensive usage of the (non-)word inherently makes it a word, whether or not the dictionary authors/editors choose to include it. It follows a basic premise of communication and language in that both parties tend to have the same concept of its meaning. –  gregsdennis Jun 26 '13 at 15:30

It does mean what you want to say, possibly, but it's not the clearest way of saying it.

Performant is being increasingly used, therefore it deserves to be considered a word. I still have misgivings about it though, largely because it seems redundant: you could instead say "fast" or "efficient".
If something's fast, why not just say so, instead of using the word performant?
And more performant is even sillier, when you could just say faster.

At the moment, it's still the sort of word you tend to see written in press releases or spoken by marketing people. To me it's a weasel-word like "premier", which sounds promising but technically meaningless and legally non-binding (what does "premier" actually mean? First, biggest, fastest, best-selling or highest ranking sales by value?)

The word performant could mean one of several things depending on the context (fast, efficient, small, optimal) and not using one of those alternative words suggests (to me) that the speaker/writer doesn't know what he's talking about, or for some reason doesn't want me to know what he's talking about.

Go ahead and use the word if you like, but I won't trust you, because you'll sound like a sales brochure.

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+1 because of the sales brochure argument, but I don't agree - efficient and optimal could be used with the same meaningless effect. –  Camilo Martin Feb 3 '12 at 1:32
potentially too tangential, but because you did couch it as a question; one would presume that premier, from the french 'première' does mean first? But I really do agree with that subtle weaselling perception you get from marketers who think they possess the same creative license Shakespeare did because 'they're in the literary industry of today' –  lol Jan 26 '13 at 12:26
Yes, that's exactly it. I know in French it means "first", but to justify that word it would really have to be first, chronologically or by some other ranking. Using the French word instead allows the weaselly suggestion of superiority without needing any supporting evidence. –  njd Jan 28 '13 at 14:27
In terms of computing fast is not necessarily a good replacement for performant. On a slow computer a program could be well performing for the architecture, but I wouldn't call it fast in a general sense. For a peformant system, efficient only partially describes it. Not only is it efficient, but it's intended to make as much use of the hardware as possible to speed up it's processing of tasks; efficient doesn't describe this, but I believe performant does. Ex: "high performance multi-threaded system" vs "performant multi-threaded system". What do you think? –  leetNightshade Mar 14 at 5:23
I think performant basically describes how well something is utilized, a relative measurement. Fast is an absolute, a hard benchmark, unless you clarify it relatively. You watch a young man run the 100m in 10s, then a young boy run it in 15s. The young man is certainly fast, the young boy not so much. However, the boy for his size and age, is fast. Or you could say they are both well performing runners, or performant runners. Anyway, at this point I've over thought the matter, I'm sure. ;p –  leetNightshade Mar 14 at 5:32

This is such an interesting forum; I found it when googling "performant" because of my students' repeated use of the word. In French, it's an actual word that means something like performs effectively, efficiently, and well. So, French students use it regularly because it sounds like English, although I'd classify it as a false cognate. Thanks to all for confirming that it's not currently an accepted word/usage in English.

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I use the word performant often, and its meaning (in my opinion) is subtly different from that of fast or efficient. The most performant network might not be the fastest, or the most efficient, but the one which provides the best overall service.

My IT systems are both performant and resilient.

The above seems (to me) to be very succinct. The word performant implies speed, accuracy, flexibility and capability — it implies that my IT systems are just right for my environment. They might not be the fastest, and not necessarily the most feature-packed, but they're just right for my needs.

I like performant.

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There's not really anything inherently wrong with performant; its formation is regular enough and it seems to convey a meaning that no other single word conveys. If that is enough for you, then go ahead. But you ought to know that the word will be ill-regarded by many, who will consider it a pseudo-learned, affected, vulgar and pointless novelty. Of course, perhaps they are wrong about this, but even if so, they may well be people whose good opinion of your language is important to you.

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I would avoid using "performant" in any formal documentation or technical report. However -- coming from the other side of the debate -- I think that there's nothing wrong with using performant.

The English language, along with all other living languages, transform regularly. The more a word is used, the more that it will be accepted. I would be surprised, in fact, if the word doesn't hit the dictionary soon.

As long as you're in a fairly informal situation, I see nothing wrong with using the word. I agree to avoid it in anything formal, though.

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With some misgivings, admittedly, I'm going to downvote this. Noting OP's getting the red underlining, I think we can assume he's not a native speaker. Whilst I'm happy to agree that English is a "living language", I'm not comfortable with telling non-native-speakers it's okay to promulgate any neologisms or idiosyncratic usages they happen to come up with. –  FumbleFingers Aug 23 '11 at 22:05
Uhh... I'm a native speaker and I would totally use that phrase. :P I appreciate you're well thought out comment though. Thank you! –  Richard Aug 23 '11 at 22:11
Well, I'm almost a "wrinkly", and ordinarily I would totally not use the word "totally" like that. In general I do agree with your basic premise, particularly when there's clear semantic space waiting to be occupied by a new usage. But in this case I'd have thought existing words like effective and efficient cover the meaning, so performant looks like a jargon "buzzword" that should be left in whatever specialised vocabularies it's already colonised. –  FumbleFingers Aug 23 '11 at 22:22
...anyway, having just realised that you could justifiably resent the loss of rep there, I've just been through your other answers and upvoted everything I reasonably could. You may be glad to know there was only one other I couldn't endorse, and in several cases I thought yours was the best answer, even if it didn't have the most upvotes already. –  FumbleFingers Aug 23 '11 at 23:02
Deciding the validity of the new word cannot be based solely on which language the prospective user learned first - this is an ad hominem argument. The decision should be based entirely upon the merit of the argument for which the usage was propounded. If we err against validity of an expression when a non-native speaker enquires, the question can still be posed by a native speaker, and if the argument itself (which in this case it is) is meritorious, then we have simply not addressed it. Also, the existence of synonyms don't preclude neologisms - if they did, synonyms wouldn't exist. –  lol Jan 26 '13 at 13:21

I've only heard a few programmers use it. Generally in a buzzword context to imply that a piece of software or an algorithm is "not slow."

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"Performant" is an invalid word. It has become a buzzword in the Software Engineering community. It is synonymous to "Optimal".

Acceptance of "Performant" as a word is a symptom of its continuous, errornous use in programming literature. This is particularly true for documents about Databases.

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"Optimal" means "the best". "Performant" doesn't mean that it has the best performance, only that it has good performance. Also, just because something is annoying business-speak or tech-speak, doesn't mean that it's an "invalid" word. –  Andrew Grimm May 25 at 11:07

protected by RegDwigнt Jan 23 at 15:25

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