brit·​tle | \ ˈbri-tᵊl How to pronounce brittle (audio) \
brittler\ ˈbrit-​lər How to pronounce brittle (audio) , ˈbri-​tᵊl-​ər \; brittlest\ ˈbrit-​ləst How to pronounce brittle (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 brittle (audio) \ adverb
brittleness \ ˈbri-​tᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce brittle (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 Fold 2 should have supported stylus input, but the first-gen UTG panel was too brittle. Chris Smith, BGR, 13 July 2021 When trees dry out and become brittle, heavy storms can bring down branches. Teri Webster, Dallas News, 6 July 2021 Intense, life-threatening heat has plagued the West in recent weeks, baking already brittle vegetation, drying up worryingly empty reservoirs and smashing temperature records. Julia Musto, Fox News, 27 June 2021 But Beirut’s brutal experiment in the absence of government means that, for many, confidence in the state’s ability and willingness to help and protect its people is about as brittle as my windows. Rania Abouzeid, The Atlantic, 12 Mar. 2021 Loss of resiliency: The life jacket is excessively hard, stiff or its foam is brittle. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 30 June 2021 Many in Hong Kong had long worried that the city’s autonomy was brittle, but previous Chinese leaders had preferred to exercise influence indirectly and covertly. New York Times, 28 June 2021 This is about where the good news for Sub-Zero stops, however, because the biggest issue is simply that ice is just too brittle. James Grebey, Vulture, 19 Apr. 2021 While typical mammals’ bones get more brittle and thin over the years, mole rat bones keep the same mineral content and remain just as solid. Max G. Levy, Wired, 24 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Your brittle, agèd skull and fragile brain matter are also many, many more feet above the pavement now. Emma Brewer, The New Yorker, 22 June 2021 In the Hualapai Mountains in Arizona, officials ordered the evacuation this week of 200 homes as screeching winds propelled flames through forests of brittle-dry pines. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2021 But too much can make a blade brittle, reducing toughness. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, 5 Mar. 2021 The butter in the recipe will keep the brittle from sticking. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, 18 Dec. 2020 Cookie brittle may be the next trend, with even Betty Crocker on board. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, 18 Dec. 2020 Prewar buildings can be nearly bombproof, but their cast-iron sewers are full of corrosion, their brass plumbing brittle and cracked. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2020 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, 24 Mar. 2020 Fan favorites The most addictive is the brittles, the cashew and peanut. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 Jan. 2020

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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Dictionary Entries Near brittle



brittle bone disease

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Statistics for brittle

Last Updated

20 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Brittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for brittle



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

More from Merriam-Webster on brittle

Nglish: Translation of brittle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brittle for Arabic Speakers


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