frac·​tious ˈfrak-shəs How to pronounce fractious (audio)
: tending to be troublesome : unruly
a fractious crowd
: quarrelsome, irritable
a fractious political campaign
fractiously adverb
fractiousness noun

Did you know?

The Latin verb frangere means "to break or shatter" and is related to a few common words, which is evident in their meanings. Dishes that are fragile break easily. A person whose health is easily broken might be described as frail. A fraction is one of the many pieces into which a whole can be broken. But fraction also once meant "disharmony" or "discord"—that is, a "rupture in relations." From this noun sense came the adjective fractious.

Examples of fractious in a Sentence

The fractious crowd grew violent.
Recent Examples on the Web At which point a fractious but inspired humanistic comedy unfolds…not. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Dec. 2023 As the world’s two largest economies jockey for global leadership, export controls and protectionist policies are becoming a bigger part of the fractious relationship. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2023 But leaders in these increasingly fractious and disorganized democracies lack China’s ability to mobilize huge resources quickly and to plan across a half century. Simon Curtis and Ian Klaus, Foreign Affairs, 27 Nov. 2023 The fractious and polarized political environment is showing slight cracks in Poland’s otherwise steadfast support and unity for Ukraine. Chris Massaro, Fox News, 14 Oct. 2023 Iowa has not had to invoke that final option—but Iowa’s political landscape is also far less fractious and hard-edged than its northern counterpart. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 14 Sep. 2023 Flora, played with brio by Eve Hewson, is a single mother in Dublin with a fractious relationship with troublemaking teen son Max (Orén Kinlan). Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 New House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) took office pledging to unify his fractious GOP conference and work with House Democrats on issues including government spending, the national debt and Israel’s defense against Hamas terrorist attacks. Marianna Sotomayor, Washington Post, 5 Nov. 2023 But such operations are complex and expensive, and require coaxing fractious local and governmental groups and private landowners to work together. Dorothy Wickenden, The New Yorker, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


fract(ion) (in sense "rupture, discord, breach of the peace") + -ious (after captious, factious)

First Known Use

1714, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fractious was in 1714


Dictionary Entries Near fractious

Cite this Entry

“Fractious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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