[ broh-kuhn ]
See synonyms for: brokenbrokenlybrokenness on

  1. past participle of break.

  1. reduced to fragments; fragmented.

  2. ruptured; torn; fractured.

  1. not functioning properly; out of working order.

  2. Meteorology. (of sky cover) being more than half, but not totally, covered by clouds.: Compare scattered (def. 4).

  3. changing direction abruptly: The fox ran in a broken line.

  4. fragmentary or incomplete: a broken ton of coal weighing 1,500 pounds.

  5. infringed or violated: A broken promise is a betrayal of trust.

  6. interrupted, disrupted, or disconnected: After the phone call he returned to his broken sleep.

  7. weakened in strength, spirit, etc.: His broken health was due to alcoholism.

  8. tamed, trained, or reduced to submission: The horse was broken to the saddle.

  9. imperfectly spoken, as language: She still speaks broken English.

  10. spoken in a halting or fragmentary manner, as under emotional strain: He uttered a few broken words of sorrow.

    • (of a relationship) split apart; not intact: a broken marriage.

    • (of a family) disunited or divided by the prolonged or permanent absence of a parent, usually due to divorce or desertion: a child from a broken home; broken families.

  11. not smooth; rough or irregular: We left the plains and rode through broken country.

  12. ruined; bankrupt: the broken fortunes of his family.

  13. Papermaking, Printing. a quantity of paper of less than 500 or 1000 sheets.

Origin of broken

First recorded in 1350–1400, for the adjective

Other words from broken

  • bro·ken·ly, adverb
  • bro·ken·ness, noun
  • half-broken, adjective
  • well-broken, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use broken in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for broken


/ (ˈbrəʊkən) /

  1. the past participle of break

  1. fractured, smashed, or splintered: a broken vase

  2. imperfect or incomplete; fragmentary: a broken set of books

  1. interrupted; disturbed; disconnected: broken sleep

  2. intermittent or discontinuous: broken sunshine

  3. varying in direction or intensity, as of pitch: a broken note; a broken run

  4. not functioning: a broken radio

  5. spoilt or ruined by divorce (esp in the phrases broken home, broken marriage)

  6. (of a trust, promise, contract, etc) violated; infringed

  7. overcome with grief or disappointment: a broken heart

  8. (of the speech of a foreigner) imperfect in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation: broken English

  9. Also: broken-in made tame or disciplined by training: a broken horse; a broken recruit

  10. exhausted or weakened as through ill-health or misfortune

  11. confused or disorganized: broken ranks of soldiers

  12. breached or opened: broken defensive lines

  13. irregular or rough; uneven: broken ground

  14. bankrupt or out of money: a broken industry

  15. (of colour) having a multicoloured decorative effect, as by stippling paint onto a surface

  16. Southern African informal drunk

Derived forms of broken

  • brokenly, adverb

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