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fraction (discord) (now obsolete) +‎ -ous[1]


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈfɹæk.ʃəs/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ækʃəs


fractious (comparative more fractious, superlative most fractious)

  1. Given to troublemaking.
    Synonym: unruly
    Antonym: unfractious
    • 1835 James Kirke Paulding: The Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan
      Now when the fractious little Beau Napperty heard that Bull had sent over his tenantry to commit trespass upon his marshes, he fell into one of the greatest passions ever known, and swore that Parson Fred should rue the hour he came over into his pastures.
  2. Irritable; argumentative; quarrelsome.
    Antonym: unfractious
    • 1841 Western Farmer and Gardener, Devoted to Agriculture, Horticulture, and Rural Economy. Ed. Thomas Affleck. vol. II. Oct. 1840 to Sept. 1841.
      Fractious boys should be taught to govern their own tempers before they have the full control of oxen; and fractious men should remember that he who controls his own spirit is mightier than many who govern whole cities.
    • 1847 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter IX, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. [], volume II, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], →OCLC, page 236:
      [] to him, in his present fractious mood, she dared whisper no observations, nor ask of him any information.
    • 2012 November 7, Matt Bai, “Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds”, in New York Times[1]:
      That brief moment after the election four years ago, when many Americans thought Mr. Obama’s election would presage a new, less fractious political era, now seems very much a thing of the past.
    • 2014 November 14, Stephen Halliday, “Scotland 1-0 Republic of Ireland: Maloney the hero”, in The Scotsman[2]:
      Flair and invention were very much at a premium, suffocated by the relentless pace and often fractious nature of proceedings. The absence of James Morrison from the centre of Scotland’s midfield, the West Brom man ruled out on the morning of the game by illness, had already diminished the creative capacity of the home side in that department.
    • 2019 December 2, Fiona Harvey, “Climate crisis: what is COP and can it save the world?”, in The Guardian[3]:
      COP stands for conference of the parties under the UNFCCC, and the annual meetings have swung between fractious and soporific, interspersed with moments of high drama and the occasional triumph (the Paris agreement in 2015) and disaster (Copenhagen in 2009).
    • 2022 June 1, Ryan Mac, “Elon Musk to Workers: Spend 40 Hours in the Office, or Else”, in The New York Times[4], →ISSN:
      With his twin notes, Mr. Musk waded directly into a fractious debate over the right way for corporations to bring workers back to the office during the coronavirus pandemic.
    • 2022 October 5, Rowena Mason, “Liz Truss promises ‘growth, growth and growth’ in protest-hit speech”, in The Guardian[5]:
      After a fractious party conference and dire opinion polls for the Tories, the prime minister attempted to speak directly to the public, saying: “I want what you want.”
    • 2023 October 8, “German state elections: voters turn to the right in rebuke to Scholz’s coalition”, in The Guardian[6], sourced from Reuters, →ISSN:
      German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s fractious centre-left coalition has received a sharp rebuke from voters in the key states of Bavaria and Hesse, with economic woes and immigration fears boosting the opposition conservatives and the far right.
    • 2024 March 20, Ben Jones, “Suppliers' uncertain wait for new trains”, in RAIL, number 1005, page 38:
      Up to 250 trains will be needed to modernise all these lines, though the current government's fractious relationship with London Mayor Sadiq Khan makes that massive investment difficult to envisage in the short term.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “fractious”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.