A fracture is the separation of an object or material into two or more pieces under the action of stress. The fracture of a solid usually occurs due to the development of certain displacement discontinuity surfaces within the solid. If a displacement develops perpendicular to the surface of displacement, it is called a normal tensile crack or simply a crack; if a displacement develops tangentially to the surface of displacement, it is called a shear crack, slip band, or dislocation. Fracture strength or breaking strength is the stress when a specimen fails or fractures.
The word fracture is often applied to bones of living creatures (that is, a bone fracture), or to crystals or crystalline materials, such as gemstones or metal. Sometimes, in crystalline materials, individual crystals fracture without the body actually separating into two or more pieces. Depending on the substance which is fractured, a fracture reducesstrength (most substances) or inhibits transmission of light (optical crystals). A detailed understanding of how fracture occurs in materials may be assisted by the study of fracture mechanics.