Definition of function in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfəNG(k)SH(ə)n/


1An activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing: bridges perform the function of providing access across water Vitamin A is required for good eye function
More example sentences
  • But it does play on social mores and our embarrassment about natural bodily functions, albeit in a crude way.
  • This is because, the article argues, they are a similar frequency to the type of electrical activity natural to cellular functions and so may cause interference.
  • When a breast can't perform its natural functions, many women find it difficult to accept it as part of their body.
purpose, task, use, role
task, job, mission, undertaking, commission;
capacity, post, situation, office, occupation, employment, business
1.1Practical use or purpose in design: building designs that prioritize style over function
More example sentences
  • Motorcycle exhausts are designed with style and function in mind.
  • The reasons for docking originated in aesthetic design, function, early medical theory and even tax minimisation.
  • The idea of function sounds very practical, very sensible, whereas beauty sounds a bit airy-fairy and a bit off in the clouds.
1.2A basic task of a computer, especially one that corresponds to a single instruction from the user.
Example sentences
  • Method and apparatus for presenting new computer software functions to a user based upon actual usage
  • An icon is a graphic image that represents an available function on a computer's graphical user interface.
  • Medical billing software with quick searching functions enables offices to quickly and effectively manage multiple databases worth of information.
2 Mathematics A relationship or expression involving one or more variables: the function (bx + c)
More example sentences
  • His work is almost exclusively on calculus, in particular differential equations and functions of a real variable.
  • Then of course the relevant integrals involve odd functions, and it results that the centroid lies on the y-axis.
  • For example, the exponent b in the rate functions of the expressions in Eq. 5 was assigned a universal value.
2.1A variable quantity regarded in relation to one or more other variables in terms of which it may be expressed or on which its value depends.
Example sentences
  • Spectral analysis decomposes a variable into underlying sine and cosine functions of particular wavelengths or cycles.
  • Solving the equations of the best response functions gives expressions for equilibrium outputs.
  • He found expressions for the Bessel functions as integrals involving Legendre functions.
2.2 Chemistry A functional group.
Example sentences
  • For instance, in the case of the two active stereoisomers we showed that only the stereochemistry at the amine and hydroxyl functions on the scaffold were important - the third chiral centre is not.
  • The primary function of this system is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide; secondary functions are phonation and olfaction.
  • This points to the importance of this stretch of amino acids for the function of both proteins.
3A thing dependent on another factor or factors: class shame is a function of social power
More example sentences
  • If one part fails, all dependent functions fail too because of the interdependencies among the components.
  • The children's flirtation with radicalism and terrorism is a function of two factors - time and opportunity.
  • Where an agency is headed by a strong and credible leader, given a clear mandate to deliver, and the power to influence the functions of other departments and agencies, success can be achieved.
4A large or formal social event or ceremony: he was obliged to attend party functions
More example sentences
  • The crops of spring onions, lettuce and Chinese cabbage were given free to guests at a formal function to celebrate the event on Friday.
  • ‘Oh, he's the smart one,’ she'd say with admiration at dinner parties and social functions.
  • It was traditionally worn by kings, queens and other great figures of state during ceremonial events and functions.
social event, party, social occasion, affair, gathering, reception, soirée, after-party, jamboree, gala, meet-and-greet
informal do, bash, shindig


[no object]
1Work or operate in a proper or particular way: her liver is functioning normally
More example sentences
  • Team efforts and long hours of work meant that the town was soon functioning normally.
  • Her kidneys are working again, but we couldn't say they are functioning normally.
  • He said the system had functioned well in the past and did not serve any specific group.
work, go, run, be in working/running order, operate, be operative
1.1 (function as) Fulfill the purpose or task of (a specified thing): the museum intends to function as an educational and study center
More example sentences
  • The tree was designed for a specific purpose, but it could no longer function as a tree.
  • Boniface was also prominent in Frankish church reform and functioned as representative of the pope to the Franks.
  • The more isolated the tasks are, the more you inhibit their ability to function as a team.
act as, serve as, operate as;
perform as, work as, play the role of, do duty as



Example sentences
  • They are functionless things, and Rashid prefers his objects to have form and function.
  • The general consensus is that the majority of the non-coding, non-regulatory DNA is functionless (the so called ‘junk DNA’).
  • He chuckled at a perky, muff-like dog tottering along as if to remind the Swedes a British dog is what a dog is - unexpendable, functionless, highly ridiculous.


Mid 16th century: from French fonction, from Latin functio(n-), from fungi 'perform'.

Words that rhyme with function

compunction, conjunction, dysfunction, expunction, junction, malfunction, multifunction, unction

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: func·tion

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