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
The companies testing that medication, Biogen and Eisai, announced this year that lecanemab had slowed the decline of brain function in Alzheimer’s disease by about 27% compared with a placebo. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 14 Nov. 2022 Further, aside from just proving that red meat isn’t associated with health risks, the researchers also created a better burden of proof of risk function. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 14 Nov. 2022 The third concern is focused on gain-of-function studies that create more transmissible or pathogenic viruses in a laboratory. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, 29 Oct. 2022 Loss of function in brain nerve cells is a natural consequence of aging, and those of us who are up in years recognize glitches and faulty memory, but those with dementia experience far greater losses. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 27 Oct. 2022 Often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS leads to eventual complete loss of muscle function. Jan Crawford, CBS News, 26 Oct. 2022 The participants completed exercises using a treadmill or stationary bike, and oxygen levels were monitored along with measurements of heart and lung function over three months after the initial COVID-19 infection. Alexa Mikhail, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2022 However, tests will show a worsening of neurological function as time passes. Lisa Mulcahy, Good Housekeeping, 5 Oct. 2022 As this is a cost driver, the CIO is usually considered part of the finance function, sometimes reporting to the chief financial officer. Claus Jepsen, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2022
Verb
Maybe a household can function with one car rather than two. WIRED, 17 Nov. 2022 Patients who take diuretics for such conditions as high blood pressure can become deficient in potassium, a mineral in the electrolyte class that helps cells, muscles and nerves function correctly. Laura Landro, WSJ, 13 Nov. 2022 But the stripes also function, to my eyes, as a kind of moral principle. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2022 The streams may function sporadically due to conditions. David Schutz, Sun Sentinel, 9 Nov. 2022 In other words, the last month of the regular season will function like a playoff for five of the top six teams. Los Angeles Times, 1 Nov. 2022 What would be called the Ashanti alert system would function similarly to existing Amber Alerts, which inform the public of missing children. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 28 Oct. 2022 Simply put, without domestic work, this country would not function. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 24 Oct. 2022 Some of the mechanisms identified might function to buffer the effects of climate change. Joan Meiners, The Arizona Republic, 6 Oct. 2022 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 29 Nov. 2022.

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

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!


The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ