frack·​ing ˈfra-kiŋ How to pronounce fracking (audio)
: the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources (such as oil or natural gas)
frack verb

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Hydraulic fracturing is a technique in which a liquid is injected under high pressure into a well in order to create tiny fissures in the rock deep beneath the earth which then allow gas and oil to flow into the well. The term "hydraulic fracturing" is first known to have appeared in print in a 1948 issue of Oil & Gas Journal. A 1953 issue of the same journal also contains the earliest known print use of "fracking." The word fracking (sometimes spelled fraccing or fracing, particularly by those in the gas and oil industries) was created by shortening "fracturing." The addition of the "k" brings the word into conformity with the inflected forms of similar English words ending in a vowel plus "c," such as shellacking, panicking, and frolicking.

Examples of fracking in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In several State of the Union Messages, President Barack Obama lauded the spread of fracking, and his State Department set up a special bureau that spread the technology abroad. Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2023 Environmental advocates and researchers believe fracking may impact water quality and emit air pollutants by releasing toxic chemicals. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 4 Oct. 2023 Nationwide, fracking has used up nearly 1.5 trillion gallons of water since 2011. Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, 25 Sep. 2023 DeSantis and Haley Do Battle By Eliza Collins An argument over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s stance on fracking was just one of a long list of tense exchanges between DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley tonight. WSJ, 9 Nov. 2023 Proposals included bombing the earth to make way for roads, railways, mines, and canals, as well as detonating buried nuclear explosives to extract oil and gas from shale formations—nuclear fracking. Stephen Lezak, The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2023 But in contrast to shale fracking’s risks, DLE brings environmental benefits, reducing land and water use, and waste. IEEE Spectrum, 31 Oct. 2023 The way to read the deal is as a bet on U.S. shale fracking and hedge against the left’s anti-fossil fuels policies. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 11 Oct. 2023 Kennedy has also long-opposed fracking, the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into the ground in order to extract oil and gas, and has touted plans to ban fracking nationwide should he be elected. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 4 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fracking.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


by shortening & alteration from (hydraulic) fracturing

First Known Use

1953, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fracking was in 1953


Dictionary Entries Near fracking

Cite this Entry

“Fracking.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources (such as oil or natural gas)

from (hydraulic) fracturing

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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