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frag·​ment ˈfrag-mənt How to pronounce fragment (audio)
: a part broken off, detached, or incomplete
The dish lay in fragments on the floor.


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frag·​ment ˈfrag-ˌment How to pronounce fragment (audio)
fragmented; fragmenting; fragments

intransitive verb

: to fall to pieces

transitive verb

: to break up or apart into fragments
Choose the Right Synonym for fragment

part, portion, piece, member, division, section, segment, fragment mean something less than the whole.

part is a general term appropriate when indefiniteness is required.

they ran only part of the way

portion implies an assigned or allotted part.

cut the pie into six portions

piece applies to a separate or detached part of a whole.

a puzzle with 500 pieces

member suggests one of the functional units composing a body.

a structural member

division applies to a large or diversified part.

the manufacturing division of the company

section applies to a relatively small or uniform part.

the entertainment section of the newspaper

segment applies to a part separated or marked out by or as if by natural lines of cleavage.

the retired segment of the population

fragment applies to a part produced by or as if by breaking off.

only a fragment of the play still exists

Examples of fragment in a Sentence

Noun The dish lay in fragments on the floor. I could only hear fragments of their conversation. Verb The party is fragmenting into warring factions. These issues are fragmenting our society. property being fragmented into subdivisions
Recent Examples on the Web
The stories of hostages kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 are emerging, slowly and in fragments, as dozens of Israeli women and children, as well as foreign workers, are released from Gaza as part of a humanitarian pause in the fighting. Lior Soroka, Washington Post, 27 Nov. 2023 Investigators had earlier found a fragment of one of her bones about 100 yards from a house that blew up. Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 Thousands or tens of thousands of smaller fragments likely remain as well. Jaime Green, New York Times, 5 Nov. 2023 That's because the team found only fragments of skulls, arms, and hips at the Moroccan site rather than full bodies of bones. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 3 Nov. 2023 The boxes, filled with images torn from magazines, old postcards evocative of a cultured Europe, fragments from old manuscripts, dolls, taxidermy birds, and so on, had a galvanizing effect on Saar. Hilton Als, The New Yorker, 20 Nov. 2023 But the Seychelles are fragments of an ancient continent dropped in the middle of the sea. Frank Hulley-Jones, Washington Post, 17 Nov. 2023 Tokens are fragments of words (and sometimes whole words) used to represent words in machine learning models such as GPT-4 and the prompt interpreter for DALL-E 3. Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, 16 Nov. 2023 Often people are shooting footage, and something else that happens to be there — like leftover fragments from a bomb — can be clues for another story entirely, Polglase said. David Bauder, Fortune, 13 Nov. 2023
People can sometimes awake abruptly as a result, and sleep is fragmented. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 29 June 2023 Deep divisions and distrust between officials in Mogadishu and regional leaders, as well as among clans and subclans, threaten to fragment the country. Sarah Harrison, Foreign Affairs, 28 Sep. 2023 The audience is also fragmented thanks to the boom in streaming. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 9 Oct. 2023 Many of the animal’s native wetlands were fragmented and shrinking, and conservationists feared that global warming would finish the tortoise off. Moises Velasquez-Manoff, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 Hamas, however, is also fragmented, politically and physically, Kurtzer noted. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2023 By contrast, middle-of-the-road and progressive sources were fragmented. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Unfortunately, this information can still be fragmented, and patient records can be outdated or erroneous, or include irrelevant material. Karen Sepucha, STAT, 5 Sep. 2023 But despite the importance, the view of the predicament has often been fragmented. Mira Rojanasakul, New York Times, 28 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History



Middle English, borrowed from Latin fragmentum, from frag-, variant stem of frangere "to break, shatter" + -mentum -ment — more at break entry 1


derivative of fragment entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined above


1818, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of fragment was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near fragment

Cite this Entry

“Fragment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a part that is broken off or incomplete

Medical Definition


frag·​ment ˈfrag-mənt How to pronounce fragment (audio)
: a part broken off or detached

More from Merriam-Webster on fragment

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