function

noun
func·​tion | \ ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce function (audio) \

Definition of function

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : professional or official position : occupation His job combines the functions of a manager and a worker.
2 : the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists : purpose
3 : any of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action especially : the normal and specific contribution of a bodily part to the economy of a living organism The function of the heart is to pump blood through the body.
4 : an official or formal ceremony or social gathering They went to several functions during their college reunion weekend.
5a : a mathematical correspondence that assigns exactly one element of one set to each element of the same or another set
b : a variable (such as a quality, trait, or measurement) that depends on and varies with another height is a function of age also : result illnesses that are a function of stress
6 : characteristic behavior of a chemical compound due to a particular reactive unit also : functional group
7 : a computer subroutine specifically : one that performs a calculation with variables (see variable entry 2 sense 1a) provided by a program and supplies the program with a single result

function

verb
functioned; functioning\ ˈfəŋ(k)-​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce functioning (audio) \

Definition of function (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to have a function : serve an attributive noun functions as an adjective
2 : to carry on a function or be in action : operate

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Other Words from function

Noun

functionless \ -​ləs How to pronounce functionless (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for function

Synonyms: Noun

affair, bash, binge, blast, blowout, do, event, fete (or fête), get-together, party, powwow, reception, shindig

Synonyms: Verb

act, perform, serve, work

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Choose the Right Synonym for function

Noun

function, office, duty, province mean the acts or operations expected of a person or thing. function implies a definite end or purpose or a particular kind of work. the function of language is two-fold: to communicate emotion and to give information — Aldous Huxley office is typically applied to the function or service associated with a trade or profession or a special relationship to others. they exercise the offices of the judge, the priest, the counsellor — W. E. Gladstone duty applies to a task or responsibility imposed by one's occupation, rank, status, or calling. it is the judicial duty of the court, to examine the whole case — R. B. Taney province applies to a function, office, or duty that naturally or logically falls to one. I felt it was not my province to inquire — Anne Brontë

Examples of function in a Sentence

Noun

The function of the heart is to pump blood through the body. He believes that the true function of art is to tell the truth. What functions do these programs fulfill? infants learning to control their bodily functions The instrument is chiefly used to measure and record heart function. The design achieves a perfect blend of form and function. His job combines the functions of a manager and a worker. Her chief function is to provide expert legal advice. They went to several functions during their college reunion weekend.

Verb

The new machine functions well. His bad health has prevented him from being able to function effectively in recent weeks. Her heart now seems to be functioning normally. The computer network is not yet fully functioning.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her reasoning is twofold: First, a lone fork is more common than a lone spoon; and second, for those of us over the age of 3, the function of the fork is more important than that of the spoon. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: Is 7 too young for a girl to wear diamonds?," 10 July 2019 Her reasoning is twofold: First, a lone fork is more common than a lone spoon; and second, for those of us over the age of 3, the function of the fork is more important than that of the spoon. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Even sporks need proper placement," 10 July 2019 The natural function of this bug is to break down lactic acid, which is produced by the body during intense exercise and is known to lead to muscle fatigue and soreness. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Could the poo of elite athletes provide an ingredient to improve physical performance?," 25 June 2019 The main function of the IT band is to stabilize the knee, assist with inward rotation, and help with hip abduction. Trihealth, Cincinnati.com, "Common running injuries," 21 June 2019 The whole prosecutorial function is vested by the Constitution in the executive branch. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "“It’s High Time This Whole Matter Get Revisited”," 17 June 2019 But Perkins, who arrives on the scene with no introduction and only a few lines, is so far a one-dimensional figure whose main function is to act as a submissive target for the over-the-top parental rants of Dern’s Renata Klein. Greg Braxton, latimes.com, "‘Big Little Lies’ is less white this season. That doesn't mean it’s smart about race," 16 June 2019 Although Meghan was absent, the function was nonetheless star-studded. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Makes a Dapper Appearance at a Concert Honoring His Charity Sentebale," 11 June 2019 Others say that the function of the trip is not to educate participants about Palestinians. Farah Stockman, BostonGlobe.com, "Birthright trips, a rite of passage for many Jews, are now a target of protests," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The idea is to create functioning developmental psychology research stations in multiple places around the world. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "Is the Western mind too WEIRD to study?," 11 July 2019 Imagine how your leg would function if all the branches of the femoral artery were ligated. WSJ, "Polluting the Mississippi River and the Gulf," 11 July 2019 Neither the Legislature nor the administration has explained how these core services will function after the cuts, or prepared Alaskans for the consequences of the abrupt termination of some programs. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Former Alaska governors urge budget compromise, talks and ‘drawing a gun’ by threatening no PFDs," 11 July 2019 What has changed is the entry of streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, testing out the waters of small-screen programming with limited-episode shows that function dramatically as one long movie and are increasingly watched as such. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, "Some TV series are more like movie sequels, and it’s not always a good thing," 10 July 2019 Most people only need one functioning kidney to live a healthy life. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Stevie Wonder has a living kidney donor. Here's what that means.," 9 July 2019 Northern Ireland has not had a functioning devolved executive, which acts as its legislature and administration, since March 2017. Suyin Haynes, Time, "U.K. Lawmakers Just Voted to Back Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion Access in Northern Ireland," 9 July 2019 The Amazon description reports that the Getaway can function as a summer house, home office, or stand-alone retail building. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Amazon is selling a tiny cabin for $19K," 8 July 2019 The current inability to be certain which organs will function well after transplant has real consequences. San Diego Union-Tribune, "New system could save more patients needing transplants for lung, liver or heart," 5 July 2019

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

Noun

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for function

Noun and Verb

Latin function-, functio performance, from fungi to perform; probably akin to Sanskrit bhuṅkte he enjoys

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Statistics for function

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for function

The first known use of function was in 1533

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More Definitions for function

function

noun

English Language Learners Definition of function

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the special purpose or activity for which a thing exists or is used
: the job or duty of a person
: a large ceremony or social event

function

verb

English Language Learners Definition of function (Entry 2 of 2)

: to work or operate
: to have a specified function, role, or purpose

function

noun
func·​tion | \ ˈfəŋk-shən How to pronounce function (audio) \

Kids Definition of function

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action for which a person or thing is designed or used : purpose What function does this tool serve?
2 : a large important ceremony or social affair
3 : a mathematical relationship that assigns exactly one element of one set to each element of the same or another set

function

verb
functioned; functioning

Kids Definition of function (Entry 2 of 2)

: to serve a certain purpose : work The new machine functions well. The couch can also function as a bed.

function

noun
func·​tion | \ ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce function (audio) \

Medical Definition of function

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action especially : the normal and specific contribution of a bodily part to the economy of a living organism — see vital function

Other Words from function

functionless \ -​ləs How to pronounce functionless (audio) \ adjective
functioned; functioning\ -​sh(ə-​)niŋ How to pronounce functioning (audio) \

Medical Definition of function (Entry 2 of 2)

: to have a function shivering functions to maintain the heat of the body

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Comments on function

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