Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. The action or purpose for which a person or thing is suited or employed, especially:
a. A person's role or occupation: in my function as chief editor.
b. Biology The physiological activity of an organ or body part: The heart's function is to pump blood.
c. Computers A procedure within an application.
2. An official ceremony or a formal social occasion: disliked attending receptions and other company functions.
3. Something closely related to another thing and dependent on it for its existence, value, or significance: Growth is a function of nutrition.
4. Abbr. f Mathematics
a. A variable so related to another that for each value assumed by one there is a value determined for the other.
b. A rule of correspondence between two sets such that there is exactly one element in the second set assigned to each element in the first set. Also called mapping.
intr.v. func·tioned, func·tion·ing, func·tions
1. To have or perform a function; serve: functioned as ambassador.
2. To deal with or overcome the challenges of everyday life: For weeks after his friend's funeral he simply could not function.

[Latin fūnctiō, fūnctiōn-, performance, execution, from fūnctus, past participle of fungī, to perform, execute.]

func′tion·less adj.
Synonyms: function, duty, office, role
These nouns denote the actions and activities assigned to, required of, or expected of a person: the function of a teacher; a bank clerk's duty; performed the office of financial adviser; the role of a parent.
References in periodicals archive ?
Leukemia is a blood-based cancer characterized by the abnormal proliferation and accumulation of immature, functionless blood cells in the blood and marrow, which impede the development and function of normal blood cells.
West's dizzying entwinement of art and design, the functionless and the functional, is particularly evident in his ongoing recombinatory installations of furniture, wall segments, and even complete rooms with "artworks" proper--be they his own or those of historical figures or contemporaries such as studio assistants, artist peers, and poets, who sometimes act as collaborators.
Set in the decaying industrial wasteland of North Carolina, it follows the spectacularly alienated lives of a group of mostly black teens desperately trying to invent something resembling a workable society out the detritus of their shared and functionless community.
The ones I've encountered are essentially students with added fluff, functionless and smelly creatures with the ability to do little apart from sleep, slurp, disturb and empty.
With digital printing soon to make the offset press completely antiquated, Martin was able to repurpose this massive machine as a functionless artwork, stealing the tools of production only to adapt them to new conceptual purposes.
Placed with evident precision close to an open staircase from which visitors emerge into the main exhibition space, but decidedly off-center, this functionless doorway led anywhere and nowhere.
Two leaned against the wall, six others rested on pedestals--unadorned, immobile, and functionless.
None of this debases the idea of abstraction, which is usually defined in terms of its functionless "autonomy.
The functionless lamps, bereft of their symbolic power and ridiculed as well, are little more than stains on the wall, a kind of visual noise.
Things we know well have been distanced from us, rendered functionless and abnormal, either throu gh somewhat childish arrangements (UFO's stacked and inverted plates) or sexual connotations (the more phallic Fluorescent and Candlestick and Candle).
All three theropods had beaks but with vestigial, or functionless, tooth sockets.