In this paper ergonomics is defined as a discipline in its own right, as the theoretical and fundamental understanding of human behaviour and performance in purposeful interacting socio-technical systems, and the application of that understanding to design of interactions in the context of real settings. This definition is justified in the financial, technicat, legal, organisational, social, political and professional contexts in which ergonomists work. On the basis of the history of ergonomics and contemporary contributions, it is proposed that it is one of the modern sciences, drawing as much from the field as from the laboratory, and including elements of an art and a craft as well. Justification for the new definition is provided by examining the interacting systems which are prevalent in the modern world and which are the domain best understood through the holistic approach of ergonomics. Finally a number of challenges for ergonomics are identified.