Definition of function in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfʌŋ(k)ʃ(ə)n/


1An activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing: bridges perform the function of providing access across water bodily functions
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;
reason, basis, justification
responsibility, duty, concern, province, aim, activity, assignment, obligation, charge;
task, chore, job, role, errand, mission, detail, undertaking, commission;
capacity, post, situation, office, occupation, employment, business, operation;
French raison d'être
informal thing, bag, line of country, pigeon
1.1 [mass noun] Practical 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 relation 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: the magnetic field has varied as a function of time
More 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: the carboxyl group was replaced by functions that included tetrazolyl-, sulphonyl-, and phosphoryl-
More 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.
consequence, result, outcome, ramification, corollary, concomitant
dated issue
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, occasion, social occasion, affair, gathering, reception, soirée, celebration, jamboree, gala;
North American  levee
informal do, bash, shindig, shindy, blowout
British informal rave-up, thrash, knees-up, jolly, beanfeast, bunfight, beano, lig


[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, perform, be in action, be operative
1.1 (function as) Fulfil the purpose or task of (a specified thing): the museum intends to function as an educational and study centre
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.
serve, act, operate, perform, work, behave;
have/do the job of, play the role of, act the part of, perform the function of, do duty as, constitute, form



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

Line breaks: func|tion

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