Fragmentation Definition & Meaning |


[ frag-muhn-tey-shuhn ]
/ ˌfræg mənˈteɪ ʃən /
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the act or process of fragmenting; state of being fragmented.
the disintegration, collapse, or breakdown of norms of thought, behavior, or social relationship.
the pieces of an exploded fragmentation bomb or grenade.
Computers. the process or result of storing data from a file in noncontiguous sectors on a disk drive. As files are created, modified, deleted, etc., the files are split into smaller pieces and the remaining free space on the disk is broken up, slowing down data access speed on the disk.
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Origin of fragmentation

First recorded in 1880–85; fragment + -ation Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does fragmentation mean?

Fragmentation most generally means the process of fragmenting—breaking into pieces or being divided into parts. It can also refer to the state or result of being broken up or having been divided.

As a noun, fragment can refer to a part that has broken off (as in a bone fragment) or one that has been intentionally separated from a whole (as in I tore off a fragment of the map).

Fragmentation often involves the division of something into smaller parts or groups, as in The fragmentation of voters means that it will be much harder to build a coalition of supporters.

Fragmentation can also refer to the process of falling apart or disintegrating, especially in the context of abstract or intangible things, as in The fragmentation of the empire has resulted in multiple warring states. Such things can be described with the adjective fragmented.

It sometimes refers to the collapse or breakdown of certain norms, behaviors, or institutions, as in the fragmentation of society. 

Fragmentation is also used as a verb in a much more specific way in the context of computers, in which it refers to the storing of data files in a way that breaks them up. The opposite of this sense of fragmentation is defragmentation—the process of bringing the parts of the files back together.

The verb fragmentate, which comes from fragmentation, means the same thing as the verb fragment—to separate something into parts or to break it into fragments. The verb fragmentize means the same thing.

Example: The fragmentation and isolation of so many sectors of society has caused us to become more divided than ever.

Where does fragmentation come from?

The first records of the word fragmentation come from the 1880s. It ultimately comes from the Latin fragmentum, meaning “a broken piece,” from the verb frangere, meaning “to break.” The word fragile also comes from frangere. The suffix -ation is used to form nouns and indicates a process, action, state, condition, or result. The verb fragmentate is a back formation of fragmentation—meaning that fragmentation came first and was then altered to make fragmentate.

When it’s used in the context of physical things, fragmentation often refers to a passive process in which things are broken up by outside forces, such as the fragmentation of rock through erosion. When it’s used in the context of intangible or abstract things, fragmentation often involves division, disintegration, or collapse. It is often used in a negative way to refer to the collapse of things like morals, norms, or institutions considered to be undergoing decay.

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What are some other forms related to fragmentation?

What are some synonyms for fragmentation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with fragmentation

What are some words that often get used in discussing fragmentation?

How is fragmentation used in real life?

Fragmentation is often used to refer to the disintegration or division or intangible things, like society or an audience, but it can be used in many different contexts.


Try using fragmentation!

Which of the following words is a synonym of fragmentation?

A. breaking
B. splintering
C. division
D. all of the above

How to use fragmentation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fragmentation

/ (ˌfræɡmɛnˈteɪʃən) /

the act of fragmenting or the state of being fragmented
the disintegration of norms regulating behaviour, thought, and social relationships
the steel particles of an exploded projectile
(modifier) of or relating to a weapon designed to explode into many small pieces, esp as an antipersonnel weapona fragmentation bomb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for fragmentation

[ frăg′mən-tāshən ]

The scattering of parts of a computer file across different regions of a disk. Fragmentation occurs when the operating system breaks up the file and stores it in locations left vacant by previously deleted files. The more fragmented the file, the slower it is to retrieve, since each piece of the file must be identified and located on the disk.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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