• synonyms


[frak-shuh n]
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  1. Mathematics.
    1. a number usually expressed in the form a/b.
    2. a ratio of algebraic quantities similarly expressed.
  2. Chemistry. (in a volatile mixture) a component whose range of boiling point temperatures allows it to be separated from other components by fractionation.
  3. a part as distinct from the whole of anything; portion or section: The meeting started with a fraction of us present.
  4. a very small part or segment of anything; minute portion: Only a fraction of the work was completed on time.
  5. a very small amount; a little bit: It was only a fraction away from completion.
  6. a piece broken off; fragment or bit.
  7. the act of breaking.
  8. Ecclesiastical. (in a Eucharistic service) the breaking of the Host.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to divide or break into fractions, sections, factions, etc.: Dissension threatens to fraction the powerful union.

Origin of fraction

1350–1400; Middle English fraccioun < Late Latin frāctiōn- (stem of frāctiō) a breaking (in pieces), equivalent to Latin frāct(us) (past participle of frangere to break) + -iōn- -ion
Related formssub·frac·tion, noun


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3, 6. See part.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for fractioning


  1. maths
    1. a ratio of two expressions or numbers other than zero
    2. any rational number that is not an integer
  2. any part or subdivisiona substantial fraction of the nation
  3. a small piece; fragment
  4. chem a component of a mixture separated by a fractional process, such as fractional distillation
  5. Christianity the formal breaking of the bread in Communion
  6. the act of breaking
  1. (tr) to divide

Word Origin

C14: from Late Latin fractiō a breaking into pieces, from Latin fractus broken, from frangere to break
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fractioning



late 14c., originally in the mathematical sense, from Anglo-French fraccioun (Old French fraccion, 12c., "breaking") and directly from Late Latin fractionem (nominative fractio) "a breaking," especially into pieces, noun of action from past participle stem of Latin frangere "to break," from PIE root *bhreg- "to break" (cf. Sanskrit (giri)-bhraj "breaking-forth (out of the mountains);" Gothic brikan, Old English brecan "to break;" Lithuanian brasketi "crash, crack;" Old Irish braigim "break" wind). Meaning "a breaking or dividing" is from early 15c.; sense of "broken off piece, fragment," is from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fractioning in Medicine

blood plasma fraction

  1. The components of blood plasma that are separated by electrophoresis or a similar analytical technique.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

fractioning in Science


  1. A number that compares part of an object or a set with the whole, especially the quotient of two whole numbers written in the form ab. The fraction 12, which means 1 divided by 2, can represent such things as 10 pencils out of a box of 20, or 50 cents out of a dollar. See also decimal fraction improper fraction proper fraction.
  2. A chemical component separated by fractionation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

fractioning in Culture


The breaking up of an incoming wave by some sort of geometrical structure — for example, a series of slits — followed by reconstruction of the wave by interference. Diffraction of light is characterized by alternate bands of light and dark or bands of different colors.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.