frac·​tious | \ ˈfrak-shəs How to pronounce fractious (audio) \

Definition of fractious

1 : tending to be troublesome : unruly a fractious crowd
2 : quarrelsome, irritable a fractious political campaign

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Other Words from fractious

fractiously adverb
fractiousness noun

Did You Know?

The Latin verb frangere ("to break or shatter") has many modern English relations. Dishes that are "fragile" can 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, meaning "unruly" or "quarrelsome." Though the "disharmony" sense of the noun is now obsolete, "fractious" is still common today.

Examples of fractious in a Sentence

The fractious crowd grew violent.
Recent Examples on the Web Sheffield and its neighbours, by contrast, are divided and fractious. The Economist, "Regional inequality in Britain Why Britain is more geographically unequal than any other rich country," 30 July 2020 In late 1970, a collection of disparate, fractious groups began organizing a massive protest against the Vietnam War. Terry W. Hartle, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘Mayday 1971’ is a close-up look at largest US mass arrest," 30 July 2020 There’s the uneasy dynamic between the two performers, fractious grande dame Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) and Manon (Manon Clavel), the rising ingenue who reminds her of a long-dead rival. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Ingenious Families," 2 July 2020 Earlier, the board sat through more than four hours of fierce, fractious public comment. Hannah Natanson, Washington Post, "Loudoun schools will offer part-time in-person or full-time virtual learning," 30 June 2020 Lost in the fractious and frankly broken conversation about reopening the economy is a simple truism: containing the virus is the best fiscal stimulus. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Cathy Zhang, STAT, "Learning from Taiwan about responding to Covid-19 — and using electronic health records," 30 June 2020 Concerns over the pandemic response have also spilled into the ongoing and fractious debate over health care. Thomas Kaplan,, "Biden assails Trump’s coronavirus response in speech," 30 June 2020 President Donald Trump's fractious relationship with Europe has deteriorated further during the crisis, with the president announcing sweeping travel restrictions in March without telling any of his E.U. counterparts first. Alexander Smith, NBC News, "E.U. may block travelers from America as U.S. struggles to contain coronavirus," 24 June 2020 The league and its players’ union are deeply immersed in a fractious negotiation over the economics of how to stage a season that would feature games played in teams’ empty stadiums around the country. Jared Diamond And Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Coronavirus Surge Forces Baseball to Reconsider a ‘Bubble’ Season," 19 June 2020

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

1714, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fractious

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

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Time Traveler for fractious

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The first known use of fractious was in 1714

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fractious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for fractious


How to pronounce fractious (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fractious

: causing trouble : hard to manage or control
: full of anger and disagreement

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