broken

adjective

bro·​ken ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio)
1
: violently separated into parts : shattered
broken windows
2
: damaged or altered by or as if by breaking (see break entry 1): such as
a
: having undergone or been subjected to fracture
a broken leg
b
: not working properly
a broken camera
c
of land surfaces : being irregular, interrupted, or full of obstacles
a long broken ridge
d
: violated by transgression : not kept or honored
a broken promise
e
: discontinuous, interrupted
a broken sleep
f
: disrupted by change
g
of a tulip flower : having an irregular, streaked, or blotched pattern especially from virus infection
3
a
: made weak or infirm
his old, broken body
b
: subdued completely : crushed, sorrowful
a broken heart
a broken spirit
c
d
: reduced in rank
was broken from sergeant to private
4
a
: cut off : disconnected
spoke a few broken words
b
: imperfectly spoken or written
broken English
5
: not complete or full
a broken bale of hay
6
: disunited by divorce, separation, or desertion of one parent
children from broken homes
a broken family
brokenly adverb
brokenness noun

Examples of broken in a Sentence

The street was covered with broken glass. a broken vase that could not be repaired
Recent Examples on the Web Their journey through the mountains is cut short by a crash, which instigates a broken heart and the first song-and-dance number of the film. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Feb. 2024 Menzel plays Jesse, a successful businesswoman, mother and wife who is hiding a broken heart. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Feb. 2024 Also, perceptions about the decision being emblematic of a broken promise to international allies cannot be shaken off. Gaurav Sharma, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 There is a broken down vehicle on K-10 between K-7 and South Woodland Street. Kansas City Star Bot, Kansas City Star, 13 Feb. 2024 Kai arrives from Taiwan for a holiday with a broken heart. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 11 Feb. 2024 One on her shoulder shows his initials over a broken heart framed by angel wings. Amy Qin, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 There is not much that can be said anymore without sounding like a broken record when talking about the transcendent quarterback. Sam Joseph, CNN, 10 Feb. 2024 Perseverance rolled away from its broken companion, possibility for the last time. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'broken.' 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

Middle English, from Old English brocen, from past participle of brecan to break

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of broken was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near broken

Cite this Entry

“Broken.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/broken. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

broken

adjective
bro·​ken ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio)
1
: shattered into pieces
broken glass
2
a
: rough entry 1 sense 1a, uneven
broken terrain
b
: having gaps or breaks
a broken line
3
: not kept
a broken promise
4
: subdued completely
a broken spirit
5
: imperfectly spoken
broken English
6
: having undergone fracture
a broken leg
7
: having one parent missing (as because of divorce)
children from broken homes
brokenly adverb
brokenness noun

Medical Definition

broken

adjective
bro·​ken ˈbrō-kən How to pronounce broken (audio)
: having undergone or been subjected to fracture
a broken leg

Legal Definition

broken

past participle of break

More from Merriam-Webster on broken

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