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Difference between misfunction and malfunction?

Is misfunction a proper English word? If it is, what's the difference between the two above?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Dictionaries have defined misfunction as a synonym of malfunction. See also, Wiki: To function incorrectly; to malfunction.

However, misfunction is rarely used.

Technically, malfunction implies an erroneous and detrimental functioning, whereas misfunction merely implies an incorrect (not necessarily harmful) functioning.

[emphasis mine]
mal- a combining form meaning “bad,” “wrongful,” “ill,” occurring originally in loanwords from French (malapert); on this model, used in the formation of other words ( malfunction; malcontent).

mis-1 a prefix applied to various parts of speech, meaning “ill,” “mistaken,” “wrong,” “wrongly,” “incorrectly,” or simply negating: mistrial; misprint; mistrust.

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Thanks @Kris for a nice clarification! –  Regmi Apr 17 '13 at 0:54
Nice to be help. Here on ELU, no need to expressly thank for answers, just up-voting will serve the same purpose. Contribute more to the stackexchange community. –  Kris Apr 17 '13 at 5:44

Misfucntion means slightly different from the core function However Malfunction means drastically different from core function.

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A malfunction can happen continually; a misfunction can happen continuously.

"Once again, the turret drill press is malfunctioning; it is misfunctioning on every piece."

But, essentially, they mean the same. Most English speakers would look at this differentiation as pedantic or worse.

"Works poorly" is my choice against the Latinate.

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