bro·​ken | \ ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio) \

Definition of broken

1 : violently separated into parts : shattered broken windows
2 : damaged or altered by or as if by breaking (see break entry 1): such as
a : having undergone or been subjected to fracture a broken leg
b : not working properly a broken camera
c of land surfaces : being irregular, interrupted, or full of obstacles a long broken ridge
d : violated by transgression : not kept or honored a broken promise
e : discontinuous, interrupted a broken sleep
f : disrupted by change
g of a tulip flower : having an irregular, streaked, or blotched pattern especially from virus infection
3a : made weak or infirm his old, broken body
b : subdued completely : crushed, sorrowful a broken heart a broken spirit
c : bankrupt
d : reduced in rank was broken from sergeant to private
4a : cut off : disconnected spoke a few broken words
b : imperfectly spoken or written broken English
5 : not complete or full a broken bale of hay
6 : disunited by divorce, separation, or desertion of one parent children from broken homes a broken family

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Other Words from broken

brokenly adverb
brokenness \ ˈbrō-​kə(n)-​nəs How to pronounce broken (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for broken



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Examples of broken in a Sentence

The street was covered with broken glass. a broken vase that could not be repaired
Recent Examples on the Web The Christian artist Makoto Fujimura practices kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with a precious metal mix that highlights, rather than masks, the fracture lines in seams of gold. Laurel Mathewson Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: Beauty out of brokenness: the Easter promise of renewal," 4 Apr. 2021 Inside was a broken set of rosary beads, similar to the ones that were used to ring Gomez-Mulett’s neck, court records say. Yvonne H. Valdez,, "She forged a dream for a better life in U.S. Then she was found murdered — buried in a backyard.," 3 Apr. 2021 The man, 56, suffered a broken rib during the attack, KING-TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle, reported. Nicole Acevedo, NBC News, "Teen arrested after videos of attack against Asian couple surface online," 3 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, Japanese corporate culture wouldn’t allow broken companies to fail, and shareholders were given short shrift from management in terms of things like buybacks and dividends, says Mr. Vail. Simon Constable, WSJ, "Japanese Stocks Are Back on U.S. Investors’ Radar," 3 Apr. 2021 The family of a Stockton teenager who was beaten by four police officers has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, alleging a violent assault that left the 17-year-old with a broken nose and boot marks on his face. Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, "Family of teen beaten by Stockton police files lawsuit after two officers fired," 3 Apr. 2021 Video obtained from the same inmate backed up claims about plentiful homemade weapons and broken locks. Meg Kinnard, Star Tribune, "Lawsuits: SC officials ignored risks ahead of prison riot," 2 Apr. 2021 Based in Portland, Ore., Fitzgerald has spent his career documenting human rights and social justice issues, spotlighting unsung heroes trying to make a difference in some of the world’s most broken and desperate places. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, "Oscar-nominated short documentary ‘Hunger Ward’ spotlights famine in Yemen," 2 Apr. 2021 Mayfield ranked fourth on broken play targets in 2019, completing 12-of-26 (46 percent) with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Scott Patsko, cleveland, "How Baker Mayfield’s most-targeted routes changed under Kevin Stefanski," 2 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'broken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of broken

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for broken

Middle English, from Old English brocen, from past participle of brecan to break

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Time Traveler for broken

Time Traveler

The first known use of broken was in the 13th century

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Statistics for broken

Last Updated

7 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Broken.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for broken



English Language Learners Definition of broken

: separated into parts or pieces by being hit, damaged, etc.
: not working properly
: not kept or honored


Kids Definition of broken

 (Entry 1 of 2)

past participle of Break


bro·​ken | \ ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio) \

Kids Definition of broken (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : separated into parts or pieces broken glass a broken bone
2 : not working properly a broken camera
3 : having gaps or breaks a broken line
4 : not kept or followed a broken promise
5 : imperfectly spoken broken English


bro·​ken | \ ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio) \

Medical Definition of broken

: having undergone or been subjected to fracture a broken leg

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Legal Definition of broken

past participle of break

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Comments on broken

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