The English language contains hundreds of words with spelling variations. Dysfunction is one of those words, with its common spelling variation of disfunction. Neither spelling has a different meaning in the English language.
Both Dysfunction & Disfunction are correct but Dysfunction is the generally accepted preferred spelling that most people use.
The Meaning of Dysfunction (and Disfunction)
The Merriam Webster dictionary states that dysfunction means:
1: impaired or abnormal functioning, e.g., gastrointestinal dysfunction.
2: abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group, e.g., family dysfunction.
Dysfunctional is a noun (describing a person, place, or thing.) Its adjective counterpart (a word that modifies or describes a noun) is dysfunctional.
When To Use Dysfunction?
The spelling dysfunction, with the Greek root [dys], is the preferred spelling of the word. Therefore, the Greek spelling needs utilizing wherever possible. Any professional papers, medical documents, or essays should use this spelling.
When To Use Disfunction?
Merriam Webster cites disfunction with the Latin root [dis] as an acknowledged variation of dysfunction. However, educators, professionals, and medical experts would not use this variation. It is not technically wrong, but it is not the most correct version of the word.
Examples of Dysfunction In A Sentence
Dysfunction generally appears in sentences describing broken relationships, medical conditions, and social situations:
- Science has proven that a relationship dysfunction in the family can contribute to childhood anxiety and stress.
- A dysfunction in human lactase production causes lactose intolerance.
- One risk of chronic alcohol use is the development of liver dysfunction.
- Hormonal medication can treat sexual dysfunction in men and women.
Dysfunction also appears frequently as the root word of dysfunctional. Examples of Dysfunctional in a sentence include:
- Their large family has a dysfunctional dynamic.
- The internet has made society dysfunctional.
- After decades of eating fried food, his arteries are practically dysfunctional.
Examples of Disfunction In A Sentence
Remember, disfunction is not the generally accepted spelling of the word; however, you can use it in sentences like this:
- Kidney and liver disfunction have increased in Americans since the 1960s.
- Doctors treat hormonal disfunction for millions of Americans.
- Their relationship operates on constant disfunction.
How to Remember the Difference Between Disfunction vs Dysfunction
An excellent way to remember the correct spelling of dysfunction is to ask yourself “why” or “y.” Then, if you can remember the y, you can remember how to spell dysfunction.
To remember when to use dysfunction vs. dysfunctional, ask yourself if the word describes a person, place, or thing or if the word is the thing you are describing.
- If the word describes something else in the sentence, use the adjective dysfunctional.
- If the word is the thing or state you are describing, use the noun dysfunction.
In general, avoid using disfunction. Autocorrect and spellcheck will catch the mistake in most cases and attempt to correct it.
When it comes to using dysfunction, remember that the correct spelling uses a “y.” So while disfunction may be acceptable, it is not the best or most accurate way to spell the word.