fragile

adjective

frag·​ile ˈfra-jəl How to pronounce fragile (audio)
-ˌjī(-ə)l
1
a
: easily broken or destroyed
a fragile vase
fragile bones
b
: constitutionally (see constitutionally sense 1a) delicate : lacking in vigor
a fragile child
2
: 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 The finding flew in the face of the conventional wisdom that quantum phenomena were fragile things, observable only at extremely low temperatures. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, 26 Feb. 2024 Stash your work essentials in them for your commute, safeguard your medicines and fragile finds during flights, or even pack up bottles, pacifiers, and more for a trendy diaper bag. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 25 Feb. 2024 In the tumult, a fragile pro-Western government quickly took power. Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, 25 Feb. 2024 Today, sleek new nature lodges bring adventurous luxury to fragile but closely cared-for ecosystems. Jennifer Kester, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 As in the alpha thalassemia trial, however, Ayla’s health was still fragile — without a dose of the enzyme every week, her disease would progress. Megan Molteni, STAT, 21 Feb. 2024 Organized crime—powered by not just drug trafficking but also trafficking in migrants, kidnapping, and extortion—threatens the region’s fragile democratic development and terrorizes populations. Shannon K. O’Neil, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 Russell, who is also on the spectrum, affects a flat, staccato speaking style, moves with the grace of a lifelong dancer, easily executes forward and back flips and and — though likely much older — flawlessly plays a fragile, though sometimes volatile, teenage boy. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Feb. 2024 The small things of the title that rupture Bill’s fragile serenity send him spiraling back into lifelong sadness that has never healed, only been kept at bay. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2024 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

Etymology

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fragile. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

fragile

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

More from Merriam-Webster on fragile

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