[ frag-muhn-ter-ee ]
/ ˈfræg mənˌtɛr i /
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consisting of or reduced to fragments; broken; disconnected; incomplete: fragmentary evidence; fragmentary remains.
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Origin of fragmentary

First recorded in 1605–15; fragment + -ary

OTHER WORDS FROM fragmentary

frag·men·tar·i·ly, adverbfrag·men·tar·i·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does fragmentary mean?

The adjective fragmentary means consisting of or reduced to fragments—pieces that have been broken off of or detached from something else.

The fossilized remains of a dinosaur might be described as fragmentary if they exist in many different pieces, and perhaps some of the pieces are missing.

The word fragment is also used to refer to a part or portion of something that is incomplete or isolated from the whole, such as a fragment of a movie or piece of music. Sometimes, fragmentary is used to describe things as disjointed, disconnected, or incomplete. This sense of the word is most commonly used to describe intangible or abstract things, as in fragmentary evidence or a fragmentary proposal.  

The adjective fragmental can be used to mean the same thing as fragmentary.

The adjective fragmented describes things that have been broken into fragments or things that are or have been disorganized or disunified in some way, such as an empire that was once unified but is now fragmented.

Example: Scholars have been able to piece together the text from the fragmentary remains of the ancient parchment.

Where does fragmentary come from?

The first records of the word fragmentary come from the early 1600s. It ultimately comes from the Latin fragmentum, meaning “a broken piece,” from the verb frangere, meaning “to break.” The word fragile also comes from frangere. The suffix -ary is used for form adjectives.

The more literal senses of fragmentary and fragmented are similar, but fragmented is perhaps more likely to be used to describe the things that have broken off of something else, as in a fragmented bit of a broken bone or the fragmented pieces of a broken vase. Fragmentary, on the other hand, is more likely to be applied to the thing that was once whole, as opposed to the parts of it, as in fragmentary remains. Still, the words are sometimes used in overlapping ways, with fragmental being used as a less common synonym of fragmentary and fragmentized being used as a less common synonym of fragmented.

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What are some other forms related to fragmentary?

What are some synonyms for fragmentary?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fragmentary

What are some words that often get used in discussing fragmentary?

How is fragmentary used in real life?

Fragmentary can be used to describe physical objects that have been reduced to fragments or intangible things that are disjointed in some way.


Try using fragmentary!

Which of the following words is a synonym of fragmentary?

A. fragment
B. fragmental
C. fragmentize
D. all of the above

How to use fragmentary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fragmentary

/ (ˈfræɡməntərɪ, -trɪ) /

made up of fragments; disconnected; incompleteAlso: fragmental

Derived forms of fragmentary

fragmentarily, adverbfragmentariness, noun
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