adjective frag·ile \ ˈfra-jəl , -ˌjī(-ə)l \
|Updated on: 17 Jul 2018

Definition of fragile

1 a : easily broken or destroyed
  • a fragile vase
  • fragile bones
b : constitutionally (see constitutionally 1a) delicate : lacking in vigor
  • a fragile child
2 : tenuous, slight
  • fragile hope
  • a fragile coalition


play \frə-ˈji-lə-tē\ noun

Examples of fragile in a Sentence

  1. Her health has always been very fragile.

  2. an artist with a fragile ego

  3. He is in an emotionally fragile state.

  4. The two countries have formed a fragile coalition.

Recent Examples of fragile from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fragile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of fragile

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 1break

Synonym Discussion of 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

FRAGILE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of fragile for English Language Learners

  • : easily broken or damaged : very delicate : not strong

FRAGILE Defined for Kids


adjective frag·ile \ ˈfra-jəl \

Definition of fragile for Students

: easily broken or hurt : delicate
  • a fragile dish
  • a fragile child

Word Root of fragile

The Latin word frangere, meaning “to break,” and its form fractus give us the roots frag and fract. Words from the Latin frangere have something to do with breaking. Something fragile is easily broken. A fraction is a portion broken off from a whole. To fracture something, such as a bone, is to break it. A fragment is a part that has been broken off from something larger or that is incomplete.

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to beat or defeat soundly

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