dys·func·tion | \(ˌ)dis-ˈfəŋ(k)-shən \
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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Other Words from dysfunction

dysfunctional \(ˌ)dis-ˈfəŋ(k)-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of dysfunction in a Sentence

The disease causes gastrointestinal dysfunctions.

Recent Examples on the Web

The lack of common goals may lead to family dysfunction and turmoil. Tom Cooney And Crystal Faulkner, Cincinnati.com, "Careful planning essential when transferring business ownership to children," 11 July 2018 Over time, symptoms that are more specific to brain dysfunction appear and may include difficulty sleeping, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, partial paralysis, difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia, a fear of water. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan health officials see uptick in bats with rabies," 3 July 2018 In fact, increased body temperature can lead to heat stroke and hyperthermia and can lead to multiple organ dysfunction, according to PetMD. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "7 ways to protect your dog from heat stroke and hyperthermia," 20 June 2018 Affable joshing between the two provides subtext to a greater dysfunction that blossoms into banishment before the final curtain. Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Henry IV': Theater Review," 9 June 2018 Brexit negotiations–a monumental task under the best of circumstances–will now have to contend with the open dysfunction not just of internal E.U. politics but domestic U.K. politics as well. Ian Bremmer, Time, "The United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit Dream’ has Become a Waking Nightmare," 12 July 2018 Once one of Latin America's richest countries, Venezuela’s descent into dysfunction and poverty shows no signs of reversing course. Ethan Bronner, Bloomberg.com, "Inside the Thwarted Venezuelan Military Coup," 28 June 2018 This situation demonstrates the dysfunction of our federal government and just how broken our immigration system is. Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Immigration crisis: Support grows among Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans for keeping children with parents," 21 June 2018 In Missouri, the state legislature passed a bill Friday to shield patients from the dysfunction of the emergency department. New York Times, "As an Insurer Resists Paying for ‘Avoidable’ E.R. Visits, Patients and Doctors Push Back," 19 May 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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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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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 \

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 \ adjective
dysfunctioning \-shə-niŋ \ noun

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Comments on dysfunction

What made you want to look up dysfunction? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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