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

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 Last week, a team from the World Food Program visited Tana River County in eastern Kenya, its convoy kicking up clouds of brown dust that coated the brittle roadside brush. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, 12 Sep. 2022 Since mattes usually form when hair is dry and brittle, this rich and creamy formula instantly helps mattes by drenching the hair with hydration and natural botanicals to soften it. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 24 Aug. 2022 This clarifying cleanser that's rich in Jamaican black castor oil, shea butter, peppermint, and apple cider vinegar helps transform dry and brittle hair into luscious locks instantly. Sophie Dweck, Town & Country, 6 June 2022 Dead wood is dry and brittle and its bark may be darker in color than live wood., 17 Apr. 2022 Drying alcohols are also an ingredient to avoid because there can cause hair to become dry and brittle. ELLE, 15 Apr. 2022 The manzanita and chaparral are dry and brittle and the Santa Ana winds have begun to blow. Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 The result: healthy and fluttery lashes — rather than dry and brittle ones that are obviously doused in mascara. Talia Gutierrez, Allure, 1 Mar. 2022 The hair becomes dry and brittle, leading to breakage. Amy Marturana Winderl, SELF, 21 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And the strawberry jam is a bright visual complement to the black brittle that is also a sweet, fresh addition to the vanilla soft serve. oregonlive, 15 Aug. 2022 Aromas of mandarins, some honeydew melon, cherries and slight mint brittle. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 31 July 2022 Pair with mint brittle or even lamb chops with mint sauce. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 22 May 2022 Craft Beer Collection includes 12 caramels and 8 ounces of brittle for $32. Ann Trieger Kurland,, 7 June 2022 Aromas of mint brittle, cherries, tobacco and wet ferns. Tom Mullen, Forbes, 22 May 2022 For that brittle, glassy sugar topping, a mini blowtorch is your friend—and a worthy investment. Ashley Dunne, Sunset Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 The cola brittle is a play on the African American tradition of dropping a handful of peanuts into fizzy bottles of Coca Cola. Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press, 26 Apr. 2022 This bar of ruby cacao swirls in cocoa nibs from regular chocolate that have been made into a sweet brittle. Magdalena O'neal, Sunset Magazine, 21 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

18 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Brittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for brittle


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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