- 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
- 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 brittling
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.