de·​funct di-ˈfəŋkt How to pronounce defunct (audio)
: no longer living, existing, or functioning
wrote for a magazine that is now defunct
a defunct railroad

Did you know?

If you know that de- often means "the opposite of", it's easy to guess the meaning of defunct. Shakespeare seems to have been the first writer to use this adjective, in Henry V. Defunct American political parties include the Greenback Party, the Readjuster Party, and the Nullifier Party. Defunct Academy Awards categories include Best Dance Direction and Best Assistant Director. Defunct U.S. auto models include the Dudly Bug, the LuLu, the Hupmobile, the Gas-au-lec, and the Nu-Klea Starlite. But to speak of a person as defunct would sound disrespectful—which is how it sounds in e. e. cummings's famous poem "Buffalo Bill's defunct".

Choose the Right Synonym for defunct

dead, defunct, deceased, departed, late mean devoid of life.

dead applies literally to what is deprived of vital force but is used figuratively of anything that has lost any attribute (such as energy, activity, radiance) suggesting life.

a dead, listless performance

defunct stresses cessation of active existence or operation.

a defunct television series

deceased, departed, and late apply to persons who have died recently.

deceased is the preferred term in legal use.

the estate of the deceased

departed is used usually as a euphemism.

our departed sister

late is used especially with reference to a person in a specific relation or status.

the company's late president

Examples of defunct in a Sentence

She wrote for the now-defunct newspaper. a stack of brochures and a few faded placards are all that remain of the defunct organization
Recent Examples on the Web Wing This is the affordable, DTC version of the now defunct VanMoof (8/10, WIRED Recommends). Scott Gilbertson, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 For fans of the now defunct trio, which also included guitarist Andy Summers, Copeland has also always been a hero of sorts. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 Based on a converted Boeing Stratotanker refueling tanker and designed by the now defunct Aero Spacelines during the 1960s, an original craft called the Pregnant Guppy was supplanted by its larger Super Guppy heir just a few years later. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 9 Nov. 2023 The exhibit also featured the city’s premier music venue, Mississippi Nights (now defunct and ready to be revived), and how that acted as a place where the city could come together in the name of music—no matter age, race, gender. Daniel Scheffler, SPIN, 7 Nov. 2023 Every bit of the ruins was deliberately preserved: signs outside defunct cafés, rust-brown car carcasses, an altar in the roofless church. Nina Caplan, Travel + Leisure, 7 Oct. 2023 The project included a detailed case study of a defunct iOS app called Planetary, acquired by the museum in 2013, which allowed users to browse a music library like astronauts soaring through the Milky Way. Evan Moffitt Daniel Terna, New York Times, 17 Oct. 2023 Entire hotels were rented out, including the defunct Roosevelt Hotel, a thousand-room Jazz Age relic in midtown Manhattan, which became the city’s migrant-intake center. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, 13 Oct. 2023 The defunct firm was acquired by a group—appropriately named Farenheit—led by Silicon Valley veteran Michael Arrington, in part because of its venture capital portfolio. Byjeff John Roberts, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'defunct.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin defunctus, from past participle of defungi to finish, die, from de- + fungi to perform — more at function

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of defunct was in 1599

Dictionary Entries Near defunct

Cite this Entry

“Defunct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​funct di-ˈfəŋ(k)t How to pronounce defunct (audio)
: having finished the course of life or existence : dead, extinct
a defunct organization

More from Merriam-Webster on defunct

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