dys·​func·​tion | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce dysfunction (audio) \
variants: or less commonly

Definition of dysfunction

1 : impaired or abnormal functioning gastrointestinal dysfunction
2 : abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group family dysfunction

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Examples of dysfunction in a Sentence

The disease causes gastrointestinal dysfunctions.

Recent Examples on the Web

The world seems to be careening into more and more disorder, and American politics in particular is hopelessly ensnarled in partisan dysfunction. Sean Illing, Vox, "Intellectuals have said democracy is failing for a century. They were wrong.," 20 Dec. 2018 The last time Chinese stocks popped, in early 2015, was a classic example of Chinese market dysfunction. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "A Stock Market Crash With Chinese Characteristics," 9 July 2018 This is more proof of Republican dysfunction on this issue. Fox News, "Trump urges GOP to delay efforts until after midterms," 23 June 2018 The January audit cited high employee turnover, overburdened case workers and lack of unified strategies as some of the root causes of widespread dysfunction that hampers child welfare. Molly Young, OregonLive.com, "Changes for Oregon's struggling foster care system: Longtime manager will be replaced," 11 May 2018 The dysfunction in this book made the story so immersive and real. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' Is a Stunning Debut From Anissa Gray," 1 Apr. 2019 Yet no one in authority has acknowledged the mistakes that led to this bloodbath, explained how these institutions failed so spectacularly, or offered a plan for ending the dysfunction. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Bill Barr’s Hot Mess," 14 Feb. 2019 These intra-party squabbles are also starting to feel like a bad routine, revealing a nearly decade-long dysfunction in the political system. Jen Kirby, Vox, "What the hell is happening with Australia’s prime minister, explained," 25 Aug. 2018 As Republicans flailed for the solution the President has requested, Democrats scoffed at the dysfunction. Philip Elliott, Time, "Republicans in Congress Search for an Immigration Bill to End Border Crisis," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dysfunction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dysfunction

circa 1916, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for dysfunction

Last Updated

4 May 2019

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Time Traveler for dysfunction

The first known use of dysfunction was circa 1916

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English Language Learners Definition of dysfunction

: the condition of having poor and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes within a group of people
medical : the state of being unable to function in a normal way


variants: also disfunction \ (ˈ)dis-​ˈfəŋ(k)-​shən How to pronounce disfunction (audio) \

Medical Definition of dysfunction

: impaired or abnormal functioning (as of an organ of the body) — see minimal brain dysfunction

Other Words from dysfunction

dysfunctional \ -​shnəl, -​shən-​ᵊl How to pronounce dysfunctional (audio) \ adjective
dysfunctioning \ -​shə-​niŋ How to pronounce dysfunctioning (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on dysfunction

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dysfunction

Spanish Central: Translation of dysfunction

Nglish: Translation of dysfunction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dysfunction for Arabic Speakers

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something valued as if it were money

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