frac·​tion | \ ˈfrak-shən How to pronounce fraction (audio) \

Definition of fraction

1a : a numerical representation (such as ³/₄, ⁵/₈, or 3.234) indicating the quotient of two numbers
b(1) : a piece broken off : fragment
(2) : a discrete unit : portion
2 : one of several portions (as of a distillate) separable by fractionation
3 : bit, little a fraction closer

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Synonyms for fraction


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Examples of fraction in a Sentence

a fraction of an inch if even a tiny fraction of that cookie broke off and fell into the delicate watch works, it could mess things up
Recent Examples on the Web Scientists believe the numbers observed on shore are a fraction of the real die-off. Susanne Rust Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Three more whales wash up dead near San Francisco — eight total in five weeks," 6 May 2021 India is reporting more than 25,000 deaths per week, and official tallies are expected to be a fraction of the true totals. Suzanne Russell, USA TODAY, "India's COVID surge claims 'a genuine giant in the field of infectious diseases'," 6 May 2021 McConnell’s proposed new spending is a fraction of what Biden is seeking. Philip Elliott, Time, "Clash Coming: Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell Are Preparing for a Spending Standoff," 4 May 2021 Still, that is a fraction of what the U.S. borrowed during the same period last year, from April through June, when emergency spending to combat the pandemic and weak tax revenues sent deficits soaring and pushed total borrowing to $2.7 trillion. Kate Davidson, WSJ, "Treasury Expects to Borrow $1.3 Trillion Over Second Half of Fiscal 2021," 3 May 2021 And deaths are just a fraction of the December peak. oregonlive, "Who is getting COVID-19 in Oregon’s fourth surge?," 2 May 2021 Japan’s caseload is still a fraction of what many countries are experiencing, but the death toll has doubled in just three months and crossed 10,000 this week. Washington Post, "Olympic officials are determined to have a Tokyo Games despite Japan’s growing doubts," 1 May 2021 Even if all new commercial construction meets them, that's a fraction of existing commercial buildings, said Ben Rabe, director of building performance at the research and advocacy group Fresh Energy in St. Paul. Jennifer Bjorhus, Star Tribune, "In Minnesota, fighting climate change means changing how to heat buildings," 1 May 2021 But that is a fraction of what India needs to inoculate every adult, some 940 million people. New York Times, "Mass Vaccination, India’s Covid-19 Escape Route, Poses a Giant Challenge," 29 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fraction.' 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 fraction

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for fraction

Middle English fraccioun "act or result of breaking, mathematical fraction," borrowed from Medieval Latin frāctiōn-, frāctiō "breaking, division into parts, mathematical fraction," going back to Late Latin, "breaking, weariness, illness," from Latin frag-, variant stem of frangere "to break, shatter" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at break entry 1

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Time Traveler for fraction

Time Traveler

The first known use of fraction was in the 14th century

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Statistics for fraction

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for fraction



English Language Learners Definition of fraction

mathematics : a number (such as ¹/₂ or ³/₄) which indicates that one number is being divided by another also : a number (such as 3.323) that consists of a whole number and a decimal
: a part or amount of something


frac·​tion | \ ˈfrak-shən How to pronounce fraction (audio) \

Kids Definition of fraction

1 : a number (as ¹/₂, ²/₃, ¹⁷/₁₀₀) that indicates one or more equal parts of a whole or group and that may be considered as indicating also division of the number above the line by the number below the line
2 : a part of a whole : fragment I sold the car for a fraction of what I paid for it.


frac·​tion | \ ˈfrak-shən How to pronounce fraction (audio) \

Medical Definition of fraction

: one of several portions (as of a distillate) separable by fractionation gamma globulin is a fraction of blood plasma

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