frag·​ile ˈfra-jəl How to pronounce fragile (audio)
: easily broken or destroyed
a fragile vase
fragile bones
: constitutionally (see constitutionally sense 1a) delicate : lacking in vigor
a fragile child
: tenuous, slight
fragile hope
a fragile coalition
fragility noun
Choose the Right Synonym for fragile

fragile, frangible, brittle, crisp, friable mean breaking easily.

fragile implies extreme delicacy of material or construction and need for careful handling.

a fragile antique chair

frangible implies susceptibility to being broken without implying weakness or delicacy.

frangible stone used for paving

brittle implies hardness together with lack of elasticity or flexibility or toughness.

brittle bones

crisp implies a firmness and brittleness desirable especially in some foods.

crisp lettuce

friable applies to substances that are easily crumbled or pulverized.

friable soil

synonyms see in addition weak

Examples of fragile in a Sentence

Her health has always been very fragile. an artist with a fragile ego He is in an emotionally fragile state. The two countries have formed a fragile coalition.
Recent Examples on the Web To extend the fragile cease-fire and stabilize relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Dr. Kissinger undertook what became his signature mission. Thomas W. Lippman, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2023 Eating too fast can overwhelm your fragile organs and cause problems of their own. Christine Peterson, Outdoor Life, 29 Nov. 2023 Other materials, such as wood, can also be useful, but Reza warns against materials like ceramic and glass that are fragile and can pose a risk amidst the holiday excitement. L. Daniela Alvarez, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 Nov. 2023 Last year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ended Germany’s fragile energy balance. Peter Vanham, Fortune Europe, 28 Nov. 2023 The workers’ ordeal, followed closely in India with regular updates on television and social media, put a spotlight on concerns long raised by environmental experts about large-scale construction in the fragile Himalayan mountain range. Suhasini Raj, New York Times, 28 Nov. 2023 Abigail Mor Edan was among 17 hostages freed on the third day of the fragile truce, which has seen Israel release Palestinian prisoners and allow aid into the Gaza Strip, according to a statement from Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum. Rebecca Cohen, NBC News, 26 Nov. 2023 This could lead to serious environmental problems as the creatures tromp through fragile ecosystems, outcompete native species and deposit enormous amounts of feces in waterways. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Nov. 2023 To protect the fragile habitat, visitors are encouraged to take shikaras, traditional boats propelled by a rower, instead of motorized vessels. Adil Amin Akhoon, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French fragile, borrowed from Latin fragilis, from frag-, variant stem of frangere "to break, shatter" + -ilis "subject to, susceptible to (the action of the verb)" (alteration of -ibilis -ible, originally by haplology after verb stems ending in a labial consonant) — more at break entry 1

First Known Use

1521, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of fragile was in 1521

Dictionary Entries Near fragile

Cite this Entry

“Fragile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


frag·​ile ˈfraj-əl How to pronounce fragile (audio)
: easily broken or destroyed : delicate
fragility noun

More from Merriam-Webster on fragile

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