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

Examples of dysfunction in a Sentence

The disease causes gastrointestinal dysfunctions.
Recent Examples on the Web Plagued by organizational dysfunction and questionable decision-making, the Texans have struggled to succeed with an all-world level talent in Watson leading their offense. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: QB Davis Mills needs time, stability to reach potential, and he won't get it with Texans," 1 May 2021 Some have been stirred to action by the aggregate effect of Covid, extreme political dysfunction and stark inequalities in wealth, health and race. Lucy Alexander, Robb Report, "Why Mackenzie Scott’s $6 Billion Rapid-Fire Donations Could Change Charitable Giving," 17 Apr. 2021 Her memoir, A Child's Memories of Cartoons and Murder, addresses non-combat-PTSD, predatory behavior, generational dysfunction and domestic violence. Brianne Garrett, Forbes, "For(bes) The Culture Newsletter: Meet The First Black Man To Own And Run A Billion-Dollar Corporation," 6 Apr. 2021 Watson’s frustration has everything to do with dysfunction and nothing to do with money. Brian T. Smith, San Antonio Express-News, "Smith: Deshaun Watson vs. Texans has the makings of an epic NFL battle," 13 Feb. 2021 Periods can be affected by a multitude of factors, including stress, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis or fibroids. New York Times, "What Women Need to Know About the Covid Vaccine," 14 Apr. 2021 Periods can be affected by a multitude of factors, including stress, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis and fibroids. BostonGlobe.com, "COVID vaccines may affect women differently," 5 Apr. 2021 Both plagues are ongoing, and while covid-19 may eventually be contained by mass vaccination, the virus rampaged largely unchecked for months because of this country’s political dysfunction. Washington Post, "What should a coronavirus memorial look like? This powerful statement on gun violence offers a model.," 9 Apr. 2021 But Lempert, the children’s advocate, worries the district’s dysfunction could be used to discredit public education in general. Jill Tucker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Alison Collins' lawsuit comes amid S.F. school district crisis. The real losers could be the students," 1 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of dysfunction

circa 1916, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dysfunction

dys- + function entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dysfunction

Time Traveler for dysfunction

Time Traveler

The first known use of dysfunction was circa 1916

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dysfunction

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dysfunction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dysfunction. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dysfunction



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 dysfunction (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 dysfunction (audio) \ adjective
dysfunctioning \ -​shə-​niŋ How to pronounce dysfunction (audio) \ noun

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!