[mal-fuhngk-shuh n]


failure to function properly: a malfunction of the liver; the malfunction of a rocket.

verb (used without object)

to fail to function properly.

Origin of malfunction

First recorded in 1925–30; mal- + function Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for malfunction

flaw, fault, defect, glitch, impairment, bug, gremlin, slip

Examples from the Web for malfunction

Contemporary Examples of malfunction

  • He might have kept shooting, but his rifle had what police term “a malfunction of some sort.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Newtown's Heartbreaking Final Report

    Michael Daly

    December 28, 2013

  • The Israeli army said it had been targeting perpetrators of the rocket attack and a malfunction might have caused the mishap.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Israel Is Losing

    Dan Ephron

    March 23, 2011

Historical Examples of malfunction

British Dictionary definitions for malfunction



(intr) to function imperfectly or irregularly or fail to function


failure to function or defective functioning
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 malfunction

1827, from mal- "bad, badly, wrong" + function. As a verb, by 1888. Related: Malfunctioned; malfunctioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

malfunction in Medicine




To fail to function.
To function improperly.


Failure to function.
Faulty or abnormal functioning.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.