1. A generic application for which some tool or medium is primarily designed, or which is attributed to it within a functionalist framework, as distinct from the specific purposes of users on particular occasions.
2. The role of something in satisfying particular needs. In the case of human beings these may be either biological or social. Where this notion is applied to society itself, critics note that social systems cannot be assumed to be analogous to human organisms.
3. Requirements regarded as essential (prerequisites or necessary conditions) for the maintenance and continuation of some system. Examples from a functionalist perspective on society (where these are sometimes called functional imperatives), include reproduction and socialization. Not all functions so formulated can be easily established.
4. The consequence of some action for the maintenance of the social system as a whole. These may be intended or unintended. Critics have suggested that such explanations are teleological in accounting for functions in terms of their effects on the system of which they are a part.
5. (syntax) The relation between a linguistic form and other parts of the unit in which it occurs (e.g. subject or object).
6. (phonetics) The contrastive basis for differentiating phonemes.
7. A generic kind of utterance within an interchange: e.g. question, answer, or statement.
8. For relationships between linguistic form and social or interpersonal settings or situations, see linguistic functions.
9. For usage related to roles in interpersonal communication, see communicative functions.
10. For uses of the media, see media functions; personal functions; social functions.
11. (mathematics) A dependency relation. For example, the items in a typology are a function of the theory within which they are framed.
12. In Propp's narratology, a standardized element in the plot of a narrative, defined in terms of its role within it.
13. For Barthes, the smallest narrative unit.