# Function vs. Characteristic: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on September 28, 2023
A function denotes the role or activity assigned to something, while a characteristic is a feature or quality belonging typically to a person, place, or thing.

## Key Differences

Function and characteristic are terms often used to describe different aspects of objects, systems, or persons. A function pertains to the intended use or role of an object or a system—it delineates what something is meant to do or accomplish. For example, the function of a pen is to write. On the other hand, a characteristic is a distinctive feature, quality, or property of something. For a pen, a characteristic could be its color, length, or the type of ink it uses.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
Exploring these concepts further, a function is usually linked to actions or activities. It is connected to the purpose, task, or responsibility that a particular object or person is expected to perform. In mathematics, a function is a relation between a set of inputs and a set of permissible outputs. Conversely, a characteristic is not about what something does but rather about what something is. It is often related to the attributes, traits, or properties that make an individual or object unique or identifiable, such as the characteristic sweetness of a fruit.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
Diving deeper into function, this term is significant across multiple fields, including mathematics, computer science, biology, and engineering, each having its specific definition and context. A function, in its essence, is indicative of operational aspects—it is about performing or enabling specific tasks or actions. In biology, for example, a function of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body. It denotes a purpose or role that is fundamental to the existence or operation of an object, system, or being.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
Delving into characteristic, this word is utilized to define, describe, or categorize objects, persons, or phenomena based on their inherent or acquired features or qualities. A characteristic can be inherent, such as the characteristic stripes of a tiger, or acquired, like the characteristic skills of a craftsman. It helps in identifying, classifying, and understanding the nature and essence of something, giving insights into its composition, behavior, or existence.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
In conclusion, while function and characteristic can refer to different aspects of a person or object, they are fundamentally different concepts. Function is about the action, the role, the performance—it is dynamic, speaking to what something does. In contrast, characteristic is static—it is about the features, the qualities, the properties, defining what something is.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Denotes the role or activity assigned to something
Refers to a feature or quality belonging to something
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Sep 28, 2023

### Nature

Dynamic, related to action or activity
Static, related to inherent or acquired features
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Sep 28, 2023

### Field of Use

Broadly used in various fields for defining roles
Predominantly used for describing features or traits
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Sep 28, 2023

### Relation

About defining or describing the essence of something
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Sep 28, 2023

### Example

A function of scissors is to cut
A characteristic of scissors is their sharp blades
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Sep 28, 2023

## Function and Characteristic Definitions

#### Function

A function represents the intended purpose or use of an object or system.
The main function of the lungs is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Characteristic

A characteristic is a distinctive feature, quality, or property of an object or individual.
A characteristic of elephants is their long trunks.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Function

It is an operational aspect indicating specific tasks or actions.
The function of a printer is to produce documents and images on paper.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Characteristic

It can refer to inherent or acquired traits or attributes.
The characteristic warmth of wool makes it suitable for winter wear.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Function

In computer science, a function is a block of code designed to perform a specific task.
The “print()” function in Python outputs text to the console.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Characteristic

Characteristics can be physical, chemical, biological, or behavioral in nature.
The characteristic bonding of hydrogen and oxygen forms water.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Function

In biology, a function refers to the specific role or activity of an organ or cell.
The function of the brain is to control and coordinate all body activities.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Characteristic

It is a descriptive aspect that helps in identifying or classifying entities.
The characteristic spiciness of peppers is due to the compound capsaicin.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

#### Function

A person's role or occupation
In my function as chief editor.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

It is used to define or describe the essence or nature of something.
The characteristic resilience of rubber allows it to return to its original shape.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Function

(Biology) The physiological activity of an organ or body part
The heart's function is to pump blood.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

Being a feature that helps to distinguish a person or thing; distinctive
Heard my friend's characteristic laugh.
The stripes that are characteristic of the zebra.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(Computers) A procedure within an application.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

A feature that helps to identify, tell apart, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

An official ceremony or a formal social occasion
Disliked attending receptions and other company functions.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

(Mathematics) The integral part of a logarithm as distinguished from the mantissa
The characteristic of the logarithm 6.3214 is 6.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

Something closely related to another thing and dependent on it for its existence, value, or significance
Growth is a function of nutrition.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

(Mathematics) The least number of times the multiplicative identity in a ring needs to be added to itself to reach the additive identity, or, if the additive identity is never reached, zero. The integers have a characteristic of zero; the integers modulo 12 have a characteristic of 12.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A variable so related to another that for each value assumed by one there is a value determined for the other.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

Being a distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

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.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

A distinguishing feature of a person or thing.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

To have or perform a function; serve
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#### Characteristic

(mathematics) The integer part of a logarithm.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

To deal with or overcome the challenges of everyday life
For weeks after his friend's funeral he simply could not function.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

(nautical) The distinguishing features of a navigational light on a lighthouse etc by which it can be identified (colour, pattern of flashes etc.).
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

What something does or is used for.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

For a given field or ring, a natural number that is either the smallest positive number n such that n instances of the multiplicative identity (1) summed together yield the additive identity (0) or, if no such number exists, the number 0.
The characteristic of a field, if non-zero, must be a prime number.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A professional or official position.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

Pertaining to, or serving to constitute, the character; showing the character, or distinctive qualities or traits, of a person or thing; peculiar; distinctive.
Characteristic clearness of temper.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

An official or social occasion.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

A distinguishing trait, quality, or property; an element of character; that which characterized.
The characteristics of a true critic.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

Something which is dependent on or stems from another thing; a result or concomitant.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

The integral part (whether positive or negative) of a logarithm.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A relation where one thing is dependent on another for its existence, value, or significance.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

A prominent aspect of something;
The map showed roads and other features
Generosity is one of his best characteristics
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(mathematics) A relation in which each element of the domain is associated with exactly one element of the codomain. Category:en:Functions
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

A distinguishing quality
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(computing) A routine that receives zero or more arguments and may return a result.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

The integer part (positive or negative) of the representation of a logarithm; in the expression log 643 = 2.808 the characteristic is 2
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(biology) The physiological activity of an organ or body part.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

Any measurable property of a device measured under closely specified conditions
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#### Function

(chemistry) The characteristic behavior of a chemical compound.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Characteristic

Typical or distinctive;
Heard my friend's characteristic laugh
Red and gold are the characteristic colors of autumn
Stripes characteristic of the zebra
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(anthropology) The role of a social practice in the continued existence of the group.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(intransitive) To have a function.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

(intransitive) To carry out a function; to be in action.
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#### Function

The act of executing or performing any duty, office, or calling; performance.
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#### Function

The appropriate action of any special organ or part of an animal or vegetable organism; as, the function of the heart or the limbs; the function of leaves, sap, roots, etc.; life is the sum of the functions of the various organs and parts of the body.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

The natural or assigned action of any power or faculty, as of the soul, or of the intellect; the exertion of an energy of some determinate kind.
As the mind opens, and its functions spread.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

The course of action which peculiarly pertains to any public officer in church or state; the activity appropriate to any business or profession.
Tradesmen . . . going about their functions.
The malady which made him incapable of performing hisregal functions.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A quantity so connected with another quantity, that if any alteration be made in the latter there will be a consequent alteration in the former. Each quantity is said to be a function of the other. Thus, the circumference of a circle is a function of the diameter. If x be a symbol to which different numerical values can be assigned, such expressions as x2, 3x, Log. x, and Sin. x, are all functions of x.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A religious ceremony, esp. one particularly impressive and elaborate.
Every solemn function' performed with the requirements of the liturgy.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A public or social ceremony or gathering; a festivity or entertainment, esp. one somewhat formal.
This function, which is our chief social event.
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

To execute or perform a function; to transact one's regular or appointed business.
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#### Function

A mathematical relation such that each element of one set is associated with at least one element of another set
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#### Function

What something is used for;
The function of an auger is to bore holes
Ballet is beautiful but what use is it?
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

The actions and activities assigned to or required or expected of a person or group;
The function of a teacher
The government must do its part
Play its role
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

A relation such that one thing is dependent on another;
Height is a function of age
Price is a function of supply and demand
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#### Function

A formal or official social gathering or ceremony;
It was a black-tie function
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#### Function

A vaguely specified social event;
The party was quite an affair
An occasion arranged to honor the president
A seemingly endless round of social functions
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#### Function

A set sequence of steps, part of larger computer program
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#### Function

Perform as expected when applied;
The washing machine won't go unless it's plugged in
Does this old car still run well?
This old radio doesn't work anymore
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

Serve a purpose, role, or function;
The tree stump serves as a table
The female students served as a control group
This table would serve very well
His freedom served him well
The table functions as a desk
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

Perform duties attached to a particular office or place or function;
His wife officiated as his private secretary
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Dec 25, 2022

#### Function

In mathematics, a function is a relation between inputs and permissible outputs.
In algebra, the function f(x) = x + 2 defines an output based on each input value.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

## FAQs

#### Is function always related to action?

Generally, yes, function is often related to the actions or activities performed by an object or individual.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can one object have multiple functions?

Absolutely, many objects, especially complex ones, have multiple functions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

#### Is the function of an object always intentional?

Typically, yes, functions are usually intentional, but unintended functions can also be discovered.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a function exist without an object or system?

No, a function is always related to an object, system, or individual performing it.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

#### Is the term function used in mathematics?

Yes, in mathematics, a function is a fundamental concept representing a relation between inputs and outputs.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a characteristic be changed?

Some characteristics can change, like acquired traits, while inherent characteristics are usually fixed.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can something have a characteristic that is not visible?

Yes, characteristics can be non-visible, such as chemical composition or internal structure.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a function be unintentional?

While functions are usually designed or intended, some functions can be unintentional or discovered later.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Is a characteristic always inherent?

No, characteristics can be either inherent or acquired.
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Sep 28, 2023

#### Can characteristics be both positive and negative?

Yes, characteristics can be perceived as positive, negative, or neutral, depending on the context.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

#### Is function more important than characteristic?

Neither is universally more important; the importance of function or characteristic depends on the context and purpose of evaluation.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a characteristic be measured?

Many characteristics can be measured, quantified, or evaluated, but some are qualitative.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Are all characteristics visible to the human eye?

No, many characteristics, like molecular structure or emotional resilience, are not visible to the naked eye.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a function be changed?

Yes, functions can change, especially in man-made objects, by modifying the design or software.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

#### Can a characteristic be common to multiple objects?

Absolutely, many objects can share common characteristics.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023