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noun, plural: functions

(biology) The special, normal, proper physiologic activity of a body part or an organ


The function of a something pertains to what it does or to what it is used for. In biology, the function pertains to the reason in which an object or a process occurs in a system. It evolved through a process of selection or natural selection.1 By definition, natural selection is a process in nature in which organisms possessing certain genotypic characteristics that make them better adjusted to an environment tend to survive, reproduce, increase in number or frequency, and therefore, are able to transmit and perpetuate their essential genotypic qualities to succeeding generations. Natural selection increases the survival and reproductive capability of an organism. Thus, a biological function evolved through natural selection to the goal or success of the organism.2

Word origin: Latin functio (performance) from functus, fungor (perform)

Related term(s):

Mentioned in:

1Cram101 Textbook Reviews. (2014). e-Study Guide for: The Biology of Cancer. Retrieved from [Link]
2Dusenbery, David B. (1992). Sensory Ecology, pp.7-8. W.H. Freeman., New York.