- 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 brittleness
The brittleness, if it had ever existed, was gone and the arm was limp.
This brittleness is due to the silicon which is deposited in the epidermis of the leaf.Birds of the Plains
Another point that should be mentioned is the brittleness of the tail.Animal Life of the British Isles
Connected with its brittleness are some very singular facts.
Even in normal quantity it is said to cause “brittleness” or “shortness.”The Preparation of Plantation Rubber
- 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 brittleness
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.