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Capacity of a material to deform permanently (e.g., stretch, bend, or spread) in response to stress. Most common steels, for example, are quite ductile and hence can accommodate local stress concentrations. Brittle materials, such as glass, cannot accommodate concentrations of stress because they lack ductility, and therefore fracture easily. When a material specimen is stressed, it deforms elastically (seeelasticity) at first; above a certain deformation, called the elastic limit, deformation becomes permanent.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ductility, visit Britannica.com.