Meaning of FUNCTION in English

I. ˈfəŋ(k)shən noun

( -s )

Etymology: Latin function-, functio performance, from functus (past participle of fungi to perform) + -ion-, -io -ion; probably akin to Sanskrit bhuṅkte he enjoys


a. : professional or official position : occupation

big business has elevated the function of management to the status of the learned professions — Nation's Business

a man combining the dual functions of chief and sorcerer — J.G.Frazer

b. obsolete : those engaged in an occupation

the scribes are not a sect but a function — Samuel Purchas

2. : the action for which a person or thing is specially fitted, used, or responsible or for which a thing exists : the activity appropriate to the nature or position of a person or thing : role , duty , work

the function that older people can perform in city life today

it is the function of stockholders to assume the risk

outlined the required and permitted functions vested in the committee

discharged the functions of his office with distinction

: use

form follows function

glass has an important function in modern architecture

: purpose

literary criticism serves complex psychological and sociological functions

poetry fulfills its function when it introduces us to life

3. obsolete : bodily or mental action : behavior , performance

function is smothered in surmise — Shakespeare


a. : an impressive and elaborate religious ceremony

b. : an often formal public or social ceremony or gathering (as a dinner or reception)

seating notables at official diplomatic functions

5. : one of a group of related actions contributing to a larger action : operation

marketing involves the propaganda function

the higher human functions of interpretation and decision


a. : the normal and specific contribution of any bodily part (as a tissue, organ, or system) to the economy of a living organism

the primary function of any gland is secretion

b. : syntactic relation (as subject, predicate, qualifier)

round has a qualifying function in “round eyes”

c. : a feature of meaning distinguished as characteristic of a type of word

number is a function of nouns; tense, of verbs

d. : the contribution (as of an element, trait, activity) to the consistency or equilibrium of a culture

6. : either of two magnitudes so related to each other that to values of one there correspond values of the other : a correspondence that associates a unique number represented symbolically by f ( x, y, z …) with every ordered set of numbers ( x, y, z …) each over its domain

the area of a circle is a function of its radius because to every value of the radius r there corresponds a unique value of the area A

7. : any quality, trait, or fact so related to another that it is dependent upon and varies with it

sand height is not a function of sea-level height — Science


a. : an expression which contains a variable term and whose meaning or truth is determined when concrete values of the variable are specified

b. : a propositional or sentential function — compare predicate 1b

c. : the rule, law, relation, or operation denoted by such an expression

9. : characteristic behavior of a compound due to the presence of a particular atom, group of atoms (as an amino group), or mode of union of atoms (as a double bond) ; also : the atom, group, or arrangement causing such behavior

a compound of simple function is one containing only one kind of function — Chem. Abstracts

10. : the performance or fulfillment of a function : functioning

the bubbles in the tissues … causing altered sensory or motor functions — H.G.Armstrong

11. : an organizational unit performing a group of related acts and processes : activity

directed all functions of the department to effect a reduction in force


function , office , duty , and province can signify in common the acts, activity, or operations expected of a person or thing by virtue of his or its nature, structure, status, or position. function can apply very comprehensively to person or thing

to fulfill one's function as a human being

one of the functions of a chairman is to preside over meetings

the function of the appendix is unknown

the main function of a language is to communicate ideas or feelings

office , often close to function in application to things, usually applies to the function or work expected of a person by virtue of his trade, profession, or position in relation to others

the office of books is not to create bookworms, but independent souls — Howard M. Jones

the view here taken of the work and office of philosophy — John Dewey

for all these the good offices of an editor are needed — Times Literary Supplement

the hangman addressed himself to his office — T.B.Macaulay

performing the office of president in his absence

it is not the office of a friend to meddle too much

duty , in this connection, applies to a task one is expected to perform by reason of the obligation inherent in one's position, relationship, or calling

one's duty as a citizen is to vote intelligently

the duties of a school principal

the duty of the vicar as a husband and father should not clash with his duties as a clergyman

the duties of a clerk

province may apply to any duty or function falling under one's jurisdiction, power, competence, and so on

the historian takes for his province those human activities which flow from thought — E.J.Tapp

a question of universal interest which lies in the province of the biologist, How did life make its appearance on our planet? — W.J.V.Osterhout

such issues are deemed beyond the province of a court — Felix Frankfurter

II. intransitive verb

( functioned ; functioned ; functioning -sh(ə)niŋ ; functions )

1. : to have a function : serve

shivering functions to maintain the heat of the body

an attributive noun functions as an adjective

2. : to carry on a function or be in action : operate , work

a government functions through numerous divisions

war was, when seen functioning, senseless and horrible — Rose Macaulay

a conductor who functioned also for a time as a music critic — Harriett Johnson

Synonyms: see act

III. noun

1. : result

illnesses that are a function of stress

2. : a computer subroutine ; specifically : one that performs a calculation with variables provided by a program and supplies the program with a single result

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.