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[fraj-uh l; British fraj-ahyl] /ˈfrædʒ əl; British ˈfrædʒ aɪl/
easily broken, shattered, or damaged; delicate; brittle; frail:
a fragile ceramic container; a very fragile alliance.
vulnerably delicate, as in appearance:
She has a fragile beauty.
lacking in substance or force; flimsy:
a fragile excuse.
Origin of fragile
1505-15; < Latin fragilis, equivalent to frag- (variant stem of frangere to break) + -ilis -ile
Related forms
fragilely, adverb
[fruh-jil-i-tee] /frəˈdʒɪl ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
fragileness, noun
nonfragile, adjective
nonfragilely, adverb
nonfragileness, noun
nonfragility, noun
overfragile, adjective
unfragile, adjective
Can be confused
brittle, fragile, frail (see synonym study at frail)
1. See frail1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fragility
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Laurent selected a skiff, which appeared so light that Camille was terrified by its fragility.

    Therese Raquin Emile Zola
  • The Colonel was carried into this room, with all the care necessitated by his fragility.

  • In spite of her fragility she was, from the habit of self-control, a stronger spirit.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • An appearance of delicacy, and even of fragility, is almost essential to beauty.

    Pearls of Thought Maturin M. Ballou
  • There was neither too much flesh, nor too little,—neither rudeness nor fragility.

British Dictionary definitions for fragility


able to be broken easily
in a weakened physical state
delicate; light: a fragile touch
slight; tenuous: a fragile link with the past
Derived Forms
fragilely, adverb
fragility (frəˈdʒɪlɪtɪ), fragileness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin fragilis, 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
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Word Origin and History for fragility

late 14c., "moral weakness," from Old French fragilité "debility, frailty" (12c.), from Latin fragilitatem (nominative fragilitas) "brittleness," from fragilis "brittle, easily broken," from root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Meaning "quality of being easily broken" first recorded in English late 15c.



1510s, "liable to sin, morally weak;" c.1600, "liable to break;" a back-formation from fragility, or else from Middle French fragile (14c.), from Latin fragilis (see fragility). Transferred sense of "frail" (of persons) is from 1858.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fragility in Medicine

fragility fra·gil·i·ty (frə-jĭl'ĭ-tē)
The quality or state of being easily broken or destroyed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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