malfunction

1 of 2

verb

mal·​func·​tion ˌmal-ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce malfunction (audio)
malfunctioned; malfunctioning; malfunctions

intransitive verb

: to function imperfectly or badly : fail to operate normally

malfunction

2 of 2

noun

plural malfunctions
: a failure to operate or function in the normal or correct manner : the action or an instance of malfunctioning
a hardware/equipment malfunction
Once thought to be a disease itself dropsy is now known to be a sign of several kinds of body malfunction, especially congestive heart failure and kidney disease.C. Clairborne Ray
In schizophrenia this filtering system malfunctions or short-circuits. This malfunction causes people to misevaluate what they see, hear, and experience in their environment.Richard Crino

Did you know?

A malfunctioning switch might keep us from turning on a light. A malfunctioning heart valve might require replacement with an artificial valve, and if your immune system malfunctions it may start to attack healthy cells. And a malfunction in a voting machine could result in hundreds of votes being miscounted.

Examples of malfunction in a Sentence

Verb A software problem is causing the system to malfunction.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Since the animatronic shark frequently malfunctioned on set, Jaws was forced to merely suggest the creature’s foreboding presence with ominous first-person camerawork instead of showing the killer up close. Wesley Stenzel, EW.com, 27 Mar. 2024 The programs had to be transferred to paper tapes, which had to be run through this very old computer that often malfunctioned and ripped your paper in half. Ben Brubaker, Quanta Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024 Then, the shot clock malfunctioned and after several attempts to restart the game and fix the clock, referees eventually determined that the arena PA announcer would announce the time left on the clock at five second intervals in real time. Issy Ronald, CNN, 17 Mar. 2024 By George Ramsay | CNN Major League Baseball players have been faced with an unusual problem ahead of the new season: a malfunctioning wardrobe. Cnn.com, The Mercury News, 23 Feb. 2024 Midway through the episode, there’s a scene in which Janine and Gregory meet in a bathroom and contend with a malfunctioning toilet. Molly Fischer, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2024 Lemon pressed Musk on his comments, noting that the pilot on the Alaska Airlines flight that saw a high-profile door plug blowout in January was a woman who landed the malfunctioning plane safely — and that Boeing has taken responsibility for the incident. William Gavin, Quartz, 18 Mar. 2024 Prosecutors said Holland pointed a loaded handgun at the head and chest of a 14-year-old on the bus and squeezed the trigger several times, but the weapon malfunctioned. Jasmine Hilton, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 An early epiphany helped doctors overcome the malfunctioning pancreas, though: The missing enzymes could be replaced with pills. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, 7 Mar. 2024
Noun
Jackson County’s assessment, collections and recorder of deeds offices were closed Tuesday morning due to computer malfunctions, which the county said was possibly attributable to some form of cyber attack. Mike Hendricks, Kansas City Star, 2 Apr. 2024 The temperamental 18,000-pound Disneyland dragon – mockingly nicknamed Murphy by fans after Murphy’s Law – has a troubled history of malfunctions and breakdowns stretching back more than a decade. Brady MacDonald, Orange County Register, 30 Mar. 2024 That’s because the ship malfunctions almost always occur in the open sea, where crews can deal with them without incident. Rich Schapiro, NBC News, 30 Mar. 2024 The most recent occurrence of a massive bridge malfunction in Arizona came on July 29, 2020, at Tempe Town Lake. Dylan Wickman, The Arizona Republic, 28 Mar. 2024 Even those who are not specifically mainlining these clips may suffer from an algorithmic selection bias: the more interest a person has in the recent plane malfunctions, the more likely that person might be to see more stories and commentary about planes in general. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 20 Mar. 2024 Check here for updates on everything from wait times and long lines to machine malfunctions and more. Cody Copeland, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5 Mar. 2024 Despite all Boeing’s plane malfunctions, air travel remains one of the safest ways to travel—there have been just two fatal accidents on U.S airlines since 2009. Sunny Nagpaul, Fortune, 27 Mar. 2024 The wardrobe malfunction came a moment later, after the rapper snatched the mic back from the fan, unimpressed with their performance. Shania Russell, EW.com, 25 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'malfunction.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Verb

1941, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1892, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of malfunction was in 1892

Dictionary Entries Near malfunction

Cite this Entry

“Malfunction.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/malfunction. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

malfunction

verb
mal·​func·​tion (ˈ)mal-ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce malfunction (audio)
: to fail to function or operate properly
malfunction noun

Medical Definition

malfunction

intransitive verb
mal·​func·​tion (ˈ)mal-ˈfəŋ(k)-shən How to pronounce malfunction (audio)
: to function imperfectly or badly : fail to operate in the normal or usual manner
malfunctioning kidneys
malfunction noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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