Think of something hard breaking in a crisp, snapping manner, and you've just imagined a fracture. The word is most often applied to a broken bone, but it can used to describe any sharp, sudden break of something solid.

The Latin frāctus means "broken," and its descendant fracture can mean any break, though it's most often associated with a hard — maybe even brittle — material, such as a bone, a rock, or the earth’s crust. When something softer is split we say it is torn. For example, when we say someone broke an arm, we are referring to the bone, not the muscle; we'd say the muscle is torn. When someone funny "breaks us up," we might say "you fracture me!"

Definitions of fracture
  1. noun
    breaking of hard tissue such as bone
    “it was a nasty fracture
    synonyms: break
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    comminuted fracture
    fracture in which the bone is splintered or crushed
    complete fracture
    break involving the entire width of the bone
    compound fracture, open fracture
    bone fracture associated with lacerated soft tissue or an open wound
    compression fracture
    fracture in which the bone collapses (especially in short bones such as vertebrae)
    depressed fracture
    fracture of the skull where the bone is pushed in
    displaced fracture
    fracture in which the two ends of the broken bone are separated from one another
    fatigue fracture, stress fracture
    fracture resulting from excessive activity rather than a specific injury
    capillary fracture, hairline fracture
    a fracture without separation of the fragments and the line of the break being very thin
    incomplete fracture
    fracture that does not go across the entire width of the bone
    impacted fracture
    fracture in which one broken end is wedged into the other broken end
    closed fracture, simple fracture
    an uncomplicated fracture in which the broken bones to not pierce the skin
    greenstick fracture
    a partial fracture of a bone (usually in children); the bone is bent but broken on only one side
    type of:
    harm, hurt, injury, trauma
    any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accident or fracture etc.
  2. noun
    the act of cracking something
    synonyms: crack, cracking
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    type of:
    break, breakage, breaking
    the act of breaking something
  3. noun
    (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other
    synonyms: break, fault, faulting, geological fault, shift
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    Denali Fault
    a major open geological fault in Alaska
    San Andreas Fault
    a major geological fault in California; runs from San Diego to San Francisco; the source of serious earthquakes
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    inclined fault
    a geological fault in which one side is above the other
    strike-slip fault
    a geological fault in which one of the adjacent surfaces appears to have moved horizontally
    common fault, gravity fault, normal fault
    an inclined fault in which the hanging wall appears to have slipped downward relative to the footwall
    overthrust fault, reverse fault, thrust fault
    a geological fault in which the upper side appears to have been pushed upward by compression
    type of:
    cleft, crack, crevice, fissure, scissure
    a long narrow opening
  4. verb
    break (a bone)
    fracture a bone of
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    break (a bone) that was previously broken but mended in an abnormal way
  5. verb
    break into pieces
    “The pothole fractured a bolt on the axle”
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    type of:
    destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments
  6. verb
    become fractured
    “The tibia fractured from the blow of the iron pipe”
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    type of:
    break, break off, discontinue, stop
    prevent completion
  7. verb
    fracture a bone of
    synonyms: break
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    type of:
    injure, wound
    cause injuries or bodily harm to
  8. verb
    interrupt, break, or destroy
    fracture the balance of power”
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    type of:
    destroy, destruct
    do away with, cause the destruction or undoing of
  9. verb
    violate or abuse
    “This writer really fractures the language”
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    type of:
    abuse, misuse, pervert
    change the inherent purpose or function of something
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