[ frag-muhn-tid, -men-, frag-men- ]
/ ˈfræg mən tɪd, -mɛn-, frægˈmɛn- /
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reduced to fragments.
existing or functioning as though broken into separate parts; disorganized; disunified: a fragmented personality; a fragmented society.
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Origin of fragmented

First recorded in 1810–20; fragment + -ed3


non·frag·ment·ed, adjectiveo·ver·frag·ment·ed, adjectiveun·frag·ment·ed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does fragmented mean?

Fragmented is an adjective that describes things that have been reduced or divided into fragments—pieces that have been broken off of or detached from the whole.

Fragment most commonly refers to a part that has broken off rather than one that has been separated gently or intentionally, like fragments of a broken vase or a broken bone. Such things can be described as fragmented.

As a verb, fragment can mean to break into pieces or disintegrate, as in The empire fragmented into multiple states after the emperor’s death. Such an empire could be described as fragmented.

Fragmented is perhaps most often applied to abstract or intangible things like this, in which case it usually means disorganized or disunified in some way. For example, a fragmented society is one in which there is an extreme lack of unity among different groups. This sense of the word often implies that the thing described as fragmented is broken or unhealthy in some way.

The verb fragmentize can mean the same thing as the verb sense of fragment, and the adjective fragmentized is a synonym of fragmented.

The related adjective fragmentary means something different: consisting of or reduced to fragments—disconnected or incomplete, as in fragmentary evidence.

Example: My attention becomes fragmented when I’m working on too many projects.

Where does fragmented come from?

The first records of the word fragmented as an adjective come from around the early 1800s. 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.

When something is fragmented, it’s not entirely whole or organized. When the thing is a physical object, it’s probably broken into pieces. When it’s something intangible, it’s probably disorganized or lacking unity in some way.

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 fragmented?

  • nonfragmented (adjective)
  • unfragmented (adjective)
  • fragment (verb, noun)

What are some synonyms for fragmented?

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

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

How is fragmented used in real life?

When fragmented is used to describe things as disorganized or lacking unity, this is usually meant in a negative way.


Try using fragmented!

Which of the following words is a synonym of fragmented?

A. disunified
B. divided
C. splintered
D. all of the above

How to use fragmented in a sentence