bro·ken | \ ˈbrō-kən \

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 \-kə(n)-nəs \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for broken


busted, fractured, fragmented, shattered, smashed



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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 x-ray was first discovered by William Roentgen in 1895, and very soon after doctors began using the technique to find bullets and diagnose broken bones. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Check Out These Awesome New 3D, Full-Color X-Rays," 13 July 2018 In April, the yellow mixed breed was discovered dumped in a ditch in Eastern Kentucky with his legs severely broken and infected. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Meet Deuce from Kentucky — he might just be the fastest dog on two legs," 11 July 2018 An ankle injury and a broken hamate bone in his hand limited his development early, but Harrison took off once healthy in 2017, winning Midwest League MVP honors. Andre C. Fernandez, miamiherald, "A skilled three-sport star, the Marlins' top prospect might be baseball's most athletic," 9 July 2018 The band has had its gear stolen, almost broken up on stage, and watched members come and go at an alarming rate. Terence Cawley,, "With Quiet Slang, a lifelong punk turns down the volume," 4 July 2018 To paraphrase an industry saying: encryption is usually bypassed, not broken. Jacob Silverman, Longreads, "Private Telegram, Public Strife," 3 July 2018 The injury that hampered Thorn was a broken hamate bone in his left wrist, a common ailment for baseball players. Dave Melton, Post-Tribune, "Twisted wrister: Portage graduate Hunter Thorn heals up, then heats up for Northwest Indiana Oilmen," 25 June 2018 My heart is just broken for her family and loved ones. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Women Are Sharing Stories About Their First Kate Spade Bag On Twitter," 5 June 2018 That broken family dynamic sends Moll fleeing from her own birthday party to the nearest bar, where a long night of drinking nearly ends in assault on the beach before she’s rescued by a passerby. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Complex ‘Beast’ offers deliciously dark romance," 17 May 2018

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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Phrases Related to broken

broken home

like a broken record

Statistics for broken

Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for broken

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

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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 \

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 \

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

What made you want to look up broken? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a magnificent or impressive array

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