||Rarity has been a central topic for conservation and evolutionary biologists aiming to determine the species characteristics that cause extinction risk. More recently, beyond the rarity of species, the rarity of functions or functional traits, called functional rarity, has gained momentum in helping to understand the impact of biodiversity decline on ecosystem functioning. However, a conceptual framework for defining and quantifying functional rarity is still lacking. We introduce 12 different forms of functional rarity along gradients of species scarcity and trait distinctiveness. We then highlight the potential key role of functional rarity in the long-term and large-scale maintenance of ecosystem processes, as well as the necessary linkage between functional and evolutionary rarity.