- having hardness and rigidity but little tensile strength; breaking readily with a comparatively smooth fracture, as glass.
- easily damaged or destroyed; fragile; frail: a brittle marriage.
- lacking warmth, sensitivity, or compassion; aloof; self-centered: a self-possessed, cool, and rather brittle person.
- having a sharp, tense quality: a brittle tone of voice.
- unstable or impermanent; evanescent.
- a confection of melted sugar, usually with nuts, brittle when cooled: peanut brittle.
- to be or become brittle; crumble.
Origin of brittle
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for brittle
Instead of being strong and resilient, bones become weak and brittle.You’re Never ‘Cured’ of an Eating Disorder
December 20, 2014
Brittle egos are bolstered less by what they love about themselves than what they find contemptible in others.Why Boring Names Are Best
March 4, 2013
Her many style tics—stacked one atop the other—read as code for narcissism, self-indulgence, and brittle self-absorption.Newt Gingrich's Wife Callista's Prissy Style Problem
December 13, 2011
“Petulant,” “brittle” and “very very mean” are all words Isaacson used to describe Jobs at times.Best Bits From the Steve Jobs Bio
October 24, 2011
Cook at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or broil quickly until the brittle has melted to give a smooth covering.Sweet Brits
April 4, 2011
If the one be porcelain, and the other earthen ware, both are brittle!Female Scripture Biographies, Vol. II
Francis Augustus Cox
It was yellow and brittle with age, covered with writing in a fine clear hand.The Inn at the Red Oak
This is an extremely beautiful plant, very tender or brittle.The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise
M. E. Hard
Notice the smooth grainless texture—hard and yet not brittle.The Long Voyage
Carl Richard Jacobi
Such plates may be so badly damaged that they are brittle and crumbled.The Automobile Storage Battery
O. A. Witte
- easily cracked, snapped, or broken; fragile
- curt or irritablea brittle reply
- hard or sharp in quality
- a crunchy sweet made with treacle and nutspeanut brittle
Word Origin and History for brittle
late 14c., britel, perhaps from an unrecorded Old English adjective *brytel, related to brytan "to crush, pound, to break to pieces," from Proto-Germanic stem *brutila- "brittle," from *breutan "to break up" (cf. Old Norse brjota "to break," Old High German brodi "fragile"), and related to bruise (v.). With -le, suffix forming adjectives with meaning "liable to."
- Having a tendency to break when subject to high stress. Brittle materials have undergone very little strain when they reach their elastic limit, and tend to break at that limit. Compare ductile.