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


bit, fragment, piece, scrap

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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

Engineers opened the left gate and began releasing 10,000 cfs, enough to fill 450 backyard swimming pools every minute, but still only a fraction of capacity. John D'anna, azcentral, "For a while in 1983, sheets of plywood were all that kept the mighty Glen Canyon Dam from overflowing," 18 July 2019 Biden’s swelling bank account – which is still only a tiny fraction the size of Trump’s -- may ultimately be a non-issue in the campaign. Janet Hook,, "Joe Biden earned $15 million since leaving office, tax returns show," 9 July 2019 Because the bursts are so short and hard to track, Bannister's team found a way to freeze and save data collected by the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in a fraction of a second after the telescope detects a burst. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "A mysterious fast radio burst was traced to a galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away," 27 June 2019 All the companies are working on systems to identify a person from a grainy surveillance camera image in a fraction of a second. Mayumi Negishi, WSJ, "Japanese Security Companies Benefit From U.S.’s China Concerns," 21 June 2019 In only a fraction of a second, those lasers heated the water droplet to around 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit and compressed it to over a million times the pressure of the Earth’s atmosphere. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Blasted a Bunch of Super Lasers to Make This Exotic Space Ice," 9 May 2019 But Johri had a futuristic trick up her sleeve—a handheld, Star Trek-like device that can say what species a part belongs to in a fraction of the time, using only a small tissue sample. Joshua Rapp Learn, National Geographic, "Handheld DNA tester can quickly identify illegal shark fins," 15 Apr. 2019 To date, 29 states have enacted laws that require their utilities to get a certain fraction of their power from wind and solar. New York Times, "As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground," 26 June 2019 Neither price necessarily reflects what a new buyer might pay after accounting for options and extras, but even the top trim Fiesta ST, starting at $21,340, is a fraction of the Escalade’s sticker. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Endangered species? SUVs squeezing out affordable, entry-level cars," 22 June 2019

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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Statistics for fraction

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for fraction

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

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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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Comments on fraction

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


an act or instance of editing or removing

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