This essay addresses the confusions that attend the uses (and misuses?) of the word “performative” within theatre and performance studies. I trace the history of the word’s emergence through some of the foundational texts of the discipline of performance studies. I also address the first appearances of the word in some of the field’s key journals, finding five distinct uses of “performative.” The essay closes by considering why scholars of theatre and performance remain attached to a word whose meaning has become so confused, and I offer some ways that we might use the confusion surrounding “performative” to think in productive ways about performance as such.