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OF. fraccion (Fr. fraction), ad. eccl.L. fractin-em, n. of action f. frangre to break.]


a. in the Eucharist: the breaking or dividing of the bread.
b. with reference to material things in general, and to lines, etc.; also, refraction (of light). Obs.
c. with reference to immaterial things; chiefly in obsolete uses, e.g. a disturbance (of the mind), an infraction or rupture (of the peace).
  • 2. The result of breaking; the state of being broken; a broken place, breach, fissure, rupture; spec. in Surg. a fracture. Obs.
  • 4. a. Something broken off; a disconnected portion; a fragment, scrap, small piece. Said with reference both to material and immaterial things. by fractions: piecemeal, by halves. Now rare.
b. ? A paragraph or section (of a book). Obs.
  • 5. Mathematics
a. Arithmetic. A numerical quantity that is not an integer; one or more aliquot parts of a unit or whole number; an expression for a definite portion of a unit or magnitude.

common or vulgar fractions are those in which the numerator and denominator are represented by numbers placed the one above, the other below, a horizontal line. Sometimes fraction is used for ‘vulgar fraction’, or for a quantity expressed by means of a numerator and denominator; e.g. ‘the fraction = 2’. For complex, compound, continued, decimal, proper and improper fractions, see those words.

b. Algebra. An expression analogous to an arithmetical vulgar fraction, in which the numerator and denominator are algebraical terms or expressions.
  • 6. A portion of a section (sense 2e (b)) of land. U.S.
  • 7. Any one of the portions, differing in physical or chemical properties, into which a mixture may be separated, esp. by physical methods.
  • 8. In Communist use: see quots. 1922 and 1927. Also, a deviant or schismatic group. Hence fractionism, the views or policies of such a group; fractionist, a member or adherent of such a group. Also (all forms) transf. Cf. FRACTIONAL a. c. Hence fraction v., to break into fractions or pieces. fractionlet, a small fragment.

See also