func·​tion·​ary | \ ˈfəŋ(k)-shə-ˌner-ē How to pronounce functionary (audio) \
plural functionaries

Definition of functionary

1 : one who serves in a certain function
2 : one holding office in a government or political party

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Did You Know?

For most of us, being described as a functionary wouldn't be a compliment. The word refers especially to a person of lower rank, with little or no authority, who must carry out someone else's orders. Bureaucrat is often a synonym. However, functionary can also refer to the world beyond government and offices; a character in a play, for example, could be called a functionary if it was obvious that her sole function was to keep the plot moving.

Examples of functionary in a Sentence

He was a party functionary during the political campaign. spoke to high-ranking functionaries at the embassy in the hopes that they could help

Recent Examples on the Web

Basically, the functionary told Green that the city wanted that streetlight installed, and Green had to pay for it. Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Here’s Why Housing Is So Expensive," 30 Aug. 2019 In total, 52 players, two managers and six club functionaries were incriminated and later punished with varying degrees of severity., "50 of the Biggest Controversies in Football History," 21 June 2019 Before the lesson on Hrushevsky is finished, a school functionary arrives to say that class is canceled; the students have to nail together voting booths for the upcoming presidential election. Sophie Pinkham, The New York Review of Books, "Ukraine’s New Leading Man," 17 June 2019 The film of tomorrow won’t be made by functionaries of cinema but by artists for whom the shoot will constitute a formidable and exalted adventure. . . . Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Truffaut Essays That Clear Up Misguided Notions of Auteurism," 8 June 2019 Then the famous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian functionaries was supposed to be proof of collusion, but nothing more has come of that. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Michael Cohen Show," 29 Nov. 2018 Though of the highest Brahmin caste, his family was desperately poor, his father only able to work intermittently as a low-level government functionary due to chronic health problems. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "We Are Scientists," 5 June 2018 Its imaginative universe expanded to allow for anything, including both banal functionaries and truly evil operators. Daniel D'addario, Time, "Scandal Helped Define the Obama Era. And Maybe Predicted Trump's," 19 Apr. 2018 The cast is fantastic Corporate has hired a synergistic team of TV veterans and comedians to play the functionaries of Hampton DeVille. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Why you should watch Comedy Central's brilliant dark comedy 'Corporate'," 27 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'functionary.' 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 functionary

circa 1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for functionary

Last Updated

7 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for functionary

The first known use of functionary was circa 1785

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English Language Learners Definition of functionary

: a person who works for a government or political party

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More from Merriam-Webster on functionary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with functionary

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for functionary

Spanish Central: Translation of functionary

Nglish: Translation of functionary for Spanish Speakers

Comments on functionary

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


concealment of treason or felony

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