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

brickle [dialect], crisp, crispy, crumbly, embrittled, flaky (also flakey), friable, short

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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


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.

Examples of brittle in a Sentence


a brittle cracker that turned into crumbs in my pocket a brittle apology that was anything but heartfelt

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The latest batch of employment data, expected Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET, will help sort out crosscurrents, from resilient consumers to brittle manufacturing. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "What the June Jobs Report Tells Us About the U.S. Economy," 5 July 2019 Osteoporosis causes one’s bones to become so brittle that they can be fractured by low amounts of stress put on them, even an aggressive cough. Maggie O'neill,, "What is Triclosan? Study Links Common Ingredient in Toothpastes and Soaps With Osteoporosis," 27 June 2019 At the open-air site in the garden, all of the bags and test strips had become too brittle to test further or had disintegrated into microplastics after nine months. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "Biodegradable shopping bags buried for three years still work," 28 Apr. 2019 Come mid-March, spring flowers like desert marigolds, brittle brush, and perry penstemon fill the park’s several gardens with color, and native milkweed attracts monarch butterflies. Sunset, "Where to See Wildflowers This Season," 22 Jan. 2018 The silky, sturdy yet flexible material turned out to be a perfect substitute for expensive and brittle boar bristles. National Geographic, "How your toothbrush became a part of the plastic crisis," 14 June 2019 They probably weren’t used as loom weights, either, due to their slightness and relatively brittle design; loom weights are also more easily crafted from clay. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Ancient, Inedible ‘Cheerios’ Found in Austrian Archaeological Site," 12 June 2019 In addition, your nails become more brittle and drier over time, creating more cracks where fungus can live. Dawn Davis,, "Treatment for toenail fungus isn’t always necessary," 5 June 2019 As the salad course was served, a waiter carrying a parasol emerged; rosemary brittle bread hung on pink ribbons from its perimeter. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "LoveShackFancy Fêtes Its New Bleecker Street Store With the Dreamiest Dinner," 16 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Smitten Kitchen Everyday, by the award-winning blogger Deb Perelman, spans such clever, crowd-pleasing recipes as two-ingredient oat brittle, leek-and-feta savory pie, and pretzel linzer cookies. Emily Saladino, USA TODAY, "2017's best food and beverage books," 21 Dec. 2017 The recipe for candied almonds makes more than enough for the salad, and can also double as almond brittle, a handmade gift in itself. Birmingham Magazine,, "Enjoy Christmas citrus with these tasty recipes," 13 Dec. 2017

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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Statistics for brittle

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brittle

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

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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


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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

Comments on brittle

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a small bunch of flowers

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