frag·ile (frăjəl, -īl′)
1. Easily broken, damaged, or destroyed.
2. Lacking physical or emotional strength; delicate: a fragile personality.
3. Lacking substance; tenuous or flimsy: a fragile claim to fame.
[French, from Old French, from Latin fragilis, from frangere, frag-, to break; see bhreg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
fra·gili·ty (frə-jĭlĭ-tē), fragile·ness n.
Synonyms: fragile, breakable, frangible, flimsy, brittle
These adjectives mean easily broken or damaged. Fragile applies to objects that are not made of strong or sturdy material and that require great care when handled: fragile porcelain plates.
Breakable and frangible mean capable of being broken but do not necessarily imply inherent weakness: breakable toys; frangible bullets designed to break apart on impact.
Flimsy refers to what is easily broken because of inferior materials or workmanship: "Flimsy and loosely built structures collapsed like houses of cards under the terrific wrenching and shaking" (Richard L. Humphrey).
Brittle refers to inelasticity that makes something especially likely to fracture or snap when it is subjected to pressure: brittle bones. See Also Synonyms at weak.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.