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
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 brokenness (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 custom piece is a tiny angel with broken wings being pulled upwards by doves, and is in the artist’s tiny realism style. Tanya Edwards,, "Demi Lovato Reveals The Meaning Behind Her Upper-Back Tattoo," 12 Feb. 2020 Star freshman Carnell Williams had suffered a broken collarbone early in the game, which killed the Tigers hopes. Creg Stephenson |, al, " All-Access: What’s the biggest upset in Alabama, Auburn football history?," 11 Feb. 2020 The type of broken bone people often fear most is an open fracture—and for good reason. Alisha Mcdarris, Popular Science, "You broke a bone in the middle of nowhere. Now what?," 11 Feb. 2020 Capitalism right now is a very broken machine where certain kinds of people and class of people are benefitting and everyone else is being squeezed. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "This Oscar nominee might be the best movie ever on globalization and the future of work," 8 Feb. 2020 The story wobbles between these genres like the needle on a broken compass. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Trickster Hero of the Thirty Years’ War," 7 Feb. 2020 Even at the stations the MTA deems accessible, constantly broken elevators, wide gaps between the train and platform, and unannounced service changes make the subway difficult to use for people with disabilities. Claire Perlman, ProPublica, "Paratransit Services in New York City Are Severely Limited and Unpredictable. They Still Cost $614 Million a Year.," 6 Feb. 2020 As in many similar cases, the complaint lists particular bruises and the broken collarbone and concludes such conditions do not occur in nonmobile infants absent some abuse. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Former Children's Wisconsin ER doctor charged with abusing his daughter after fellow doctors raised concerns," 28 Jan. 2020 They were reunited in Jacksonville but Foles suffered a broken collarbone 11 plays into the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. John Reid, USA TODAY, "Jaguars part ways with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after only one season," 14 Jan. 2020

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

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Broken.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for broken


How to pronounce broken (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on broken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for broken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with broken

Spanish Central: Translation of broken

Nglish: Translation of broken for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of broken for Arabic Speakers

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