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

Example Sentences

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 His government will now have to contend with a divided electorate, a fragile economic recovery and the rise of an ultraconservative Islamist movement that allied with his rivals during the election. Feliz Solomon, WSJ, 24 Nov. 2022 What’s certain—and certainly significant—is that the very same rapid, rampant technological developments that have allowed such achievements also require resource consumption on a scale that is rendering our global civilization more fragile. The Editors, Scientific American, 23 Nov. 2022 The rampage on Saturday night shattered the fragile sense of security that Club Q, one of only two local gay bars, offered a community that has long faced discrimination in this bastion of American conservatism. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2022 The supply chain that produces our fresh-tasting Thanksgiving dinners is one of the most fragile and fragmented of any industry–and one of the hardest to secure. Bymark Manglicmot, Fortune, 23 Nov. 2022 Utilize a neck cream like the Tripeptide-R Neck Repair, which is formulated with 0.2-percent pure retinol, a 2.5-percent tripeptide concentrate, and a five-percent glaucine complex (a type of poppy plant) to firm your fragile neck skin. Sarah Han, Allure, 22 Nov. 2022 Any use of force or arrest can be devastating for someone who is already physically and mentally fragile, like Navejas. USA Today, 22 Nov. 2022 That can lead to environmental degradation when riders venture cross-country, across fragile top soils and desert vegetation. Outside Online, 21 Nov. 2022 Because of the movie’s memory-piece design, Wells and Mescal were, essentially, constructing an idea of Calum built out of Sophie’s fragile recollections. Tim Grierson, Los Angeles Times, 21 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

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 8 Dec. 2022.

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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