easily damaged, broken, or harmed
Be careful with that vase - it's very fragile.
fra‧gile /ˈfrædʒaɪl $ -dʒəl/ BrE AmE adjective
[Date: 1400-1500; Language: Latin; Origin: fragilis; ⇨ ↑frail]
1. easily broken or damaged OPP strong:
Be careful with that vase – it’s very fragile.
2. a fragile situation is one that is weak or uncertain, and likely to become worse under pressure OPP strong:
the country’s fragile economy
Relations between the two countries are in a fragile state.
the party’s fragile unity
3. fragile health a weak physical condition because of illness
4. thin and delicate:
5. British English if someone feels fragile they feel ill, especially because they have drunk too much alcohol
—fragility /frəˈdʒɪləti, frəˈdʒɪlɪti/ noun [uncountable]
• • •
▪ fragile easily broken or damaged: The documents are old and very fragile. | a fragile glass case | The seventeenth century wall hangings are extemely fragile.
▪ delicate easily damaged – used especially about things that are made from thin material and look attractive: a delicate gold necklace | The plant has delicate blue flowers. | delicate fabrics
▪ brittle brittle hair, nails, bones etc have a hard surface, but they break easily, especially because they are not in good condition: As you get older, your bones become more brittle. | a special shampoo for dry and brittle hair
▪ breakable breakable objects must be handled carefully because they will break easily: Put breakable objects out of the reach of children. | breakable ornaments
▪ flimsy made of thin material that tears easily, or badly-made and likely to break easily: a flimsy cotton shirt | a flimsy wooden table
▪ frail especially literary not strong and therefore easy to break, damage, or hurt: The young trees are frail and need to be protected from the wind. | a frail little fishing boat | a frail old lady
fra·gile [ˈfrædʒaɪl] [ˈfrædʒl] adjective
1. easily broken or damaged
• fragile china/glass/bones
• Be careful not to drop it; it's very fragile.
2. weak and uncertain; easily destroyed or spoilt
• a fragile alliance/ceasefire/relationship
• The economy remains extremely fragile.
• In her job she was used to dealing with actors' fragile egos.
3. delicate and often beautiful
• fragile beauty
• The woman's fragile face broke into a smile.
4. not strong and likely to become ill/sick
• Her father is now 86 and in fragile health.
• (BrE, informal) I'm feeling a bit fragile after last night (= not well, perhaps because of drinking too much alcohol).
Derived Word: fragility
late 15th cent. (in the sense ‘morally weak’): from Latin fragilis, from frangere ‘to break’. The sense ‘liable to break’ dates from the mid 16th cent.
fragile [fragile fragility] adj.
• It's fragile, so don't drop it.
delicate • • brittle •
(a) fragile/delicate thread
the fragile/delicate ecology
Fragile or delicate? Delicate fabrics, like silk, need special care
• Use a cool wash for delicate fabrics.
Fragile fabrics need even more care, usually because they are very old.
• Be careful not to drop it, it's very fragile.
• fragile habitats threatened by pollution
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition
fragile / ˈfrædʒ.aɪl / / ˈfrædʒ. ə l / adjective
C2 easily damaged, broken, or harmed:
Be careful with that vase - it's very fragile.
The assassination could do serious damage to the fragile peace agreement that was signed last month.
I felt rather fragile (= weak) for a few days after the operation.
humorous No breakfast for me, thanks - I'm feeling rather fragile (= ill, upset, or tired) after last night's party.
fragility / frəˈdʒɪl.ɪ.ti / / -t̬i / noun [ U ]
The collapse of the bank is an ominous reminder of the fragility of the world's banking system.
© Cambridge University Press 2013
[fræ̱ʤaɪl, AM -ʤ(ə)l]
1) ADJ-GRADED If you describe a situation as fragile, you mean that it is weak or uncertain, and unlikely to be able to resist strong pressure or attack. [JOURNALISM]
The fragile economies of several southern African nations could be irreparably damaged...
The Prime Minister's fragile government was on the brink of collapse...
His overall condition remained fragile.
fragility [frəʤɪ̱lɪti] N-UNCOUNT oft N of n By mid-1988 there were clear indications of the extreme fragility of the Right-wing coalition.
2) ADJ-GRADED Something that is fragile is easily broken or damaged.
He leaned back in his fragile chair.
fragility N-UNCOUNT oft N of n Older drivers are more likely to be seriously injured because of the fragility of their bones.
3) ADJ-GRADED Something that is fragile is very delicate or fine in appearance.
The haircut emphasised her fragile beauty.
4) ADJ-GRADED: usu v-link ADJ If someone feels fragile, they feel weak, for example because they are ill or have drunk too much alcohol.
He felt irritated and strangely fragile, as if he were recovering from a severe bout of flu.
frag·ile /ˈfræʤəl, ˈfræˌʤajəl/ adj [more ~; most ~] : easily broken or damaged
• the flower's fragile petals
• Her health has always been very fragile.
• fragile bones
• an artist with a fragile ego
• He is in an emotionally fragile state. : very delicate
• her fragile beauty : not strong
• The two countries have formed a fragile coalition.
• a fragile cease-fire
- fra·gil·i·ty /frəˈʤɪləti/ noun [noncount]
• the fragility of her health