[fuhngk-shuh n]


verb (used without object)

to perform a specified action or activity; work; operate: The computer isn't functioning now. He rarely functions before noon.
to have or exercise a function; serve: In earlier English the present tense often functioned as a future. This orange crate can function as a chair.

Origin of function

1525–35; < Latin functiōn- (stem of functiō) a performance, execution, equivalent to funct(us) (past participle of fungī) performed, executed + -iōn- -ion
Related formsin·ter·func·tion, adjectivemul·ti·func·tion, adjectivenon·func·tion·ing, adjectiveo·ver·func·tion·ing, adjectivepre·func·tion, nounre·func·tion, verb (used without object)sub·func·tion, nounsu·per·func·tion, nounun·func·tion·ing, adjectivewell-func·tion·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for function

Contemporary Examples of function

Historical Examples of function

  • Duncan described the function in a letter to Kellogg as the time of his young life.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • But is there nothing to be said of the function of the imagination from the Greek side of the question?

    A Dish Of Orts

    George MacDonald

  • For some reason it's very important to them that it continues to function.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Literature and art, at their noblest, function in that instinctive way.

  • Doubtless, too, he would be tired after his journey and disinclined for such a function.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

British Dictionary definitions for function



the natural action or intended purpose of a person or thing in a specific rolethe function of a hammer is to hit nails into wood
an official or formal social gathering or ceremony
a factor dependent upon another or other factorsthe length of the flight is a function of the weather
Also called: map, mapping maths logic a relation between two sets that associates a unique element (the value) of the second (the range) with each element (the argument) of the first (the domain): a many-one relation. Symbol: f(x) The value of f(x) for x = 2 is f(2)

verb (intr)

to operate or perform as specified; work properly
(foll by as) to perform the action or role (of something or someone else)a coin may function as a screwdriver
Derived Formsfunctionless, adjective

Word Origin for function

C16: from Latin functiō, from fungī to perform, discharge
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for function

1530s, "proper work or purpose," from Middle French fonction (16c.) and directly from Latin functionem (nominative functio) "performance, execution," noun of action from functus, past participle of fungi "perform, execute, discharge," from PIE root *bheug- (2) "to use, enjoy" (see brook (v.)). Use in mathematics probably begun by Leibnitz (1692).


1856, from function (n.). Related: Functioned; functioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

function in Medicine




The physiological property or the special action of an organ or body part.
Something closely related to another thing and dependent on it for its existence, value, or significance, such as growth resulting from nutrition.
A mathematical variable so related to another that for each value assumed by one there is a value determined for the other.
A rule of correspondence between two sets such that there is a unique element in the second set assigned to each element in the first set.
The general properties of a substance, depending on its chemical character and relation to other substances, that provide the basis upon which it may be grouped as among acids or bases.
A particular reactive grouping in a molecule.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

function in Science



A relationship between two sets that matches each member of the first set with a unique member of the second set. Functions are often expressed as an equation, such as y = x + 5, meaning that y is a function of x such that for any value of x, the value of y will be 5 greater than x.
A quantity whose value depends on the value given to one or more related quantities. For example, the area of a square is a function of the length of its sides.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

function in Culture


In mathematics, a quantity whose value is determined by the value of some other quantity. For example, “The yield of this field is a function of the amount of fertilizer applied” means that a given amount of fertilizer will yield an amount of whatever crop is growing.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.