function

1 of 2

noun

func·​tion ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce function (audio)
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.
5
a
: 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
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
functionless adjective

function

2 of 2

verb

functioned; functioning ˈfəŋ(k)-sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce function (audio)

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
Choose the Right Synonym for function

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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Similar to a live bet where a wager is placed after a matchup has started, the edit bet function lets a user add teams to a parlay, swap a selection or remove a selection based off how the team is performing in the live game. Chris Ilenstine, Chicago Tribune, 1 Feb. 2023 There has been extensive research into the causes of ADHD, including Dr. Alan Zametkin’s, which delineate the brain function’s inability to stick with a task, minimize unwanted activity such as extreme distractibility, and act out. WSJ, 31 Jan. 2023 The Dissident-Homeschool chat function was disabled. cleveland, 30 Jan. 2023 One unexpected feature is the auto-learning smart response function. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, 27 Jan. 2023 Often described as minimal, neutral and timeless, modern interiors are incredibly popular in the home — especially in bathroom design where function is top of mind. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 26 Jan. 2023 Because the system can generate novel proteins that bear little relationship to natural proteins and yet perform the same function, it could be used to find medicines that will be as effective as existing ones, but produce fewer side effects. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, 26 Jan. 2023 Users on Twitter reported that the search function was failing, and that their music would no longer pay – and the hashtag #SpotifyDown began trending. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2023 There is the underlying function of search, but any individual app might be coated in ads, or experiences, or cheeky videos, or social connections, or linguistics, or personalization, or the relatively new promises of automation. Lauren Goode, WIRED, 26 Jan. 2023
Verb
People who work out frequently or intensely will circulate more endorphins throughout their workout, which function as a sort of pain killer. Alyssa Hui, Verywell Health, 24 Jan. 2023 The team visually unified opposite sides of the street with pavings of red brick, which function as a visual bridge. Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2023 The messaging service will allow people to configure the app to access the internet through proxy servers, which function as intermediaries between users and internet services, and can help disguise traffic and avoid controls. Andrew Jeong, Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2023 Benefits are distributed once monthly through EBT cards, which function like debit cards. Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News, 10 Dec. 2022 Many villages have installed large generators so that schools and other critical facilities can function. David L. Stern, Washington Post, 21 Jan. 2023 Hence, the new policy almost certainly means an end to other third-party clients such as Tweetbot, which need access to Twitter’s API to function. PCMAG, 19 Jan. 2023 Plus, the spray can get into ports that need to stay dry in order to function properly. Carolyn Forté, Good Housekeeping, 17 Jan. 2023 Disabling the Wi-Fi connectivity also means that many workarounds will no longer function. Tom Warren, The Verge, 17 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1856, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of function was in 1533

Dictionary Entries Near function

Cite this Entry

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

Kids Definition

function

1 of 2 noun
func·​tion ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce function (audio)
1
: professional job or duties : occupation
2
a
: the particular purpose for which a person or thing is specially fitted or used or for which a thing exists
the function of a knife is cutting
b
: the natural or proper action of a bodily part in a living thing
the function of the heart
3
: a large important ceremony or social affair
4
a
: a mathematical relationship that assigns exactly one element of one set to each element of the same or another set
b
: something (as a quality, trait, or measurement) that is determined by or based on something else
height is a function of age in children
functionless adjective

function

2 of 2 verb
functioned; functioning -sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce function (audio)
: to serve a certain purpose : work

Medical Definition

function

1 of 2 noun
func·​tion ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce function (audio)
: 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
functionless adjective

function

2 of 2 intransitive verb
functioned; functioning -sh(ə-)niŋ How to pronounce function (audio)
: to have a function
shivering functions to maintain the heat of the body

More from Merriam-Webster on function

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