Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A geometric pattern that is repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry. Fractals are used especially in computer modeling of irregular patterns and structures in nature.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) A geometric figure that repeats itself under several levels of magnification, and that shows self-similarity on all scales.
  • n. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) A geometric figure that appears irregular at all scales of length, e.g. a fern.
  • adj. Having the form of a fractal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (mathematics) a geometric pattern that is repeated at every scale and so cannot be represented by classical geometry

Etymologies

French, from Latin frāctus, past participle of frangere, to break; see fraction.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French fractal, from Latin fractus ("broken"), perfect passive participle of frangō ("break, fragment"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • "From above it's fractal." The Shack by WM Paul.

    September 29, 2010

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    December 25, 2009

  • "We could more easily re-invent public schools by volunteering our time to them directly, instead of sending our kids to private schools while we sign petitions for government to re-prioritize. And even in health care, we’d end up cutting everyone’s costs by commuting less, smoking less, landscaping less, and, yes, hating less. For each of these actions triggers different responses, undermines industries, requires new legal structures, and so on. It’s tiny, but it’s almost fractal in its impact."
    - Douglas Rushkoff, An End to Movements, arthurmag.com, 15 Aug 2009.

    September 27, 2009