brit·​tle | \ ˈbri-tᵊl How to pronounce brittle (audio) \
brittler\ ˈbrit-​lər How to pronounce brittler (audio) , ˈbri-​tᵊl-​ər \; brittlest\ ˈbrit-​ləst How to pronounce brittlest (audio) , ˈbri-​tᵊl-​əst \

Definition of brittle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : easily broken, cracked, or snapped brittle clay brittle glass
b : easily disrupted, overthrown, or damaged : frail a brittle friendship
3 : easily hurt or offended : sensitive a brittle personality
4 : sharp the brittle staccato of snare drums
5 : lacking warmth, depth, or generosity of spirit : cold a brittle selfish person
6 medical : affected with or being a form of type 1 diabetes characterized by large and unpredictable fluctuations in blood glucose level



Definition of brittle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a candy made with caramelized sugar and nuts spread in thin sheets peanut brittle

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Other Words from brittle


brittlely \ ˈbri-​tᵊl-​(l)ē How to pronounce brittlely (audio) \ adverb
brittleness \ ˈbri-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce brittleness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for brittle

Synonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for brittle


fragile, frangible, brittle, crisp, friable mean breaking easily. fragile implies extreme delicacy of material or construction and need for careful handling. a fragile antique chair frangible implies susceptibility to being broken without implying weakness or delicacy. frangible stone used for paving brittle implies hardness together with lack of elasticity or flexibility or toughness. brittle bones crisp implies a firmness and brittleness desirable especially in some foods. crisp lettuce friable applies to substances that are easily crumbled or pulverized. friable soil

Examples of brittle in a Sentence

Adjective a brittle cracker that turned into crumbs in my pocket a brittle apology that was anything but heartfelt
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Our retail supply chain is brittle because a few national companies and websites dominate. Quartz Staff, Quartz, "Bruce Schneier says we need to embrace inefficiency to save our economy," 30 June 2020 Because of that, a lack of vitamin D can lead to thin, brittle, or misshapen bones. Leah Groth,, "9 Vitamin D Benefits You Should Know—and How to Get More in Your Diet," 25 June 2020 Your body is brittle and racked with ceaseless shaking, tremors, bouts of violent retching. Arthur Longworth, The New Republic, "How to Survive Supermax," 18 June 2020 In court, District Attorney Mike Ramsey displayed the brittle iron hook that had broken on a PG&E transmission tower the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, sparking the historic conflagration and showering terror and sorrow on thousands of people. Lizzie Johnson,, "PG&E legal saga reaches climax with Camp Fire sentencing, bankruptcy approval," 18 June 2020 These hair shafts will open for almost nothing, which means product doesn’t get in, which leads to my hair being dry, brittle, and breaking often. Shalwah Evans, Essence, "This Black-Owned Brand Just Made The Dream Product For Low Porosity Hair," 15 June 2020 Without it, bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen. USA Today, "Can vitamin D help with symptoms of COVID-19? Possibly, it's key to helping your immune system function," 9 June 2020 And in this context the rule of law, which law enforcement itself fails to uphold for Black and brown people every day, becomes that much more brittle in the face of a system that hoards wealth while denying basic rights. Rebecca Pierce, The New Republic, "The Limits and Dangers of a Fixation on “Nonviolence”," 8 June 2020 In India, similar institutions are proving to be much more brittle. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Trump Isn’t the American Modi," 7 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Like a brittle, collapsing balloon, Mercury’s surface may have been destabilized by the gas’s rapid exit, generating craters, peaks and fractures that still exist on Mercury today, reports Shannon Hall for the New York Times. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Mercury’s Messy Surface May Have Once Had Crucial Ingredients for Life," 24 Mar. 2020 Fan favorites The most addictive is the brittles, the cashew and peanut. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Waterford woman channels her children's creativity into Three Lil’ Bakesters, a growing sweets business," 30 Jan. 2020 Dessert is perfectly pleasant: lemon poppy-seed cake with rhubarb and whipped crème fraîche, dark chocolate cake with peanut brittle and Toscanini’s excellent B3 ice cream (the star of the dish). Devra First,, "Why is one of Boston’s best new restaurants in Newton?," 30 Apr. 2018 Monica's Confection Connection will be at all three markets this week with a large selection of sweet treats including brittles, caramels, salted caramels, gummies and fudge. Steve Edwards, Anchorage Daily News, "Feed your Super Bowl party guests right with seafood from local markets," 31 Jan. 2018 Chipping your tooth on peanut brittle, getting a hitch in your get-a-long, or having your mother-in-law visit for the third time in one month are all legitimate reasons to have your heart sincerely blessed. Leslie Anne Tarabella,, "'Bless your heart' is a good thing," 10 Apr. 2018 The basket-fillers include ½-pound chocolate fudge Easter bunnies, gummies, caramels, salted caramels and a wide selection of brittles. Steve Edwards, Anchorage Daily News, "Easter treats are hopping to a farmers market near you," 21 Mar. 2018 The Triple Play Blizzard mixes soft-serve ice cream with caramel-coated peanuts, caramel popcorn brittle and chocolate chunks. Jennifer Mcclellan, azcentral, "Dairy Queen to sell baseball Blizzards on Opening Day in 15 lucky cities, and Phoenix is one of them," 28 Mar. 2018 Vietnamese caramel and pine nut brittle joined a succulent chunk of seabass in the fifth course. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "A new dinner with Indy's best chefs is selling out at $150 a plate. Here's why.," 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brittle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of brittle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brittle

Adjective and Noun

Middle English britil; akin to Old English brēotan to break, Old Norse brjōta

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Time Traveler for brittle

Time Traveler

The first known use of brittle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for brittle

Last Updated

7 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for brittle


How to pronounce brittle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of brittle

: easily broken or cracked
: not strong : easily damaged
: sharp in sound


brit·​tle | \ ˈbri-tᵊl How to pronounce brittle (audio) \
brittler; brittlest

Kids Definition of brittle

: hard but easily broken brittle glass

Other Words from brittle

brittleness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for brittle

brittle, crisp, and fragile mean easily broken. brittle is used of something that is hard and dry. Brittle twigs snapped under our feet. crisp is used of something hard and dry but also fresh. These crackers are no longer crisp. fragile is used of anything so delicate that it may be broken easily. He held a piece of fragile china.


brit·​tle | \ ˈbrit-ᵊl How to pronounce brittle (audio) \

Medical Definition of brittle

: affected with or being a form of type 1 diabetes characterized by large and unpredictable fluctuations in blood glucose level brittle diabetes a brittle diabetic

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More from Merriam-Webster on brittle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brittle

Spanish Central: Translation of brittle

Nglish: Translation of brittle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brittle for Arabic Speakers

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