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!"

Primary Meanings of fracture

breaking of hard tissue such as bone
break (a bone)
interrupt, break, or destroy
Full Definitions of fracture

n breaking of hard tissue such as bone

“it was a nasty fracture
show 12 types...
hide 12 types...
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.

n the act of cracking something

crack, cracking
Type of:
break, breakage, breaking
the act of breaking something

n (geology) a crack in the earth's crust resulting from the displacement of one side with respect to the other

break, fault, faulting, geological fault, shift
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
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
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

v break (a bone)

fracture a bone of
break (a bone) that was previously broken but mended in an abnormal way

v break into pieces

“The pothole fractured a bolt on the axle”
Type of:
destroy the integrity of; usually by force; cause to separate into pieces or fragments

v become fractured

“The tibia fractured from the blow of the iron pipe”
Type of:
break, break off, discontinue, stop
prevent completion

v fracture a bone of

Type of:
injure, wound
cause injuries or bodily harm to

v interrupt, break, or destroy

fracture the balance of power”
Type of:
destroy, destruct
do away with, cause the destruction or undoing of

v violate or abuse

“This writer really fractures the language”
Type of:
abuse, misuse, pervert
change the inherent purpose or function of something

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.