executive function

noun

psychology
: the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior
The biggest impacts, she says, are in enhancing what's known as executive function—the ability to perform complex tasks that rely on planning or decision making.Janet Raloff
also : one of these complex mental processes
But a new study reports that soccer players actually have superior executive functions, the brain processes responsible for planning and abstract thinking. Sindya N. Bhanoo
executive functioning noun
Measures of attention, hyperactivity, and executive functioning (the ability to process feedback, interpret life's good and bad moments, and react in an appropriate way to events) were based on reports from parents and teachers … David Kirby

Word History

First Known Use

1972, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of executive function was in 1972

Dictionary Entries Near executive function

Cite this Entry

“Executive function.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/executive%20function. Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Fashionable Words

  • dog-sunglasses-scarf
  • Which of these items is named for a deadly weapon?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY