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 At 87, his bones are brittle and his balance is bad., 31 Aug. 2021 That's because bird skeletons are extremely brittle, and none of the other surviving fossils were preserved in enough detail. Nala Rogers | Inside Science, ABC News, 1 Aug. 2021 The early May attack on Colonial Pipeline, a major oil provider on the East Coast, not only showed how brittle corporate cybersecurity standards can be, but also that integral businesses can potentially be extorted into paying ransoms. Patrick Lucas Austin, Time, 14 July 2021 Even the strong ones are brittle and can crack and collapse suddenly. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 21 May 2021 Those that fail to do so will likely become brittle, jeopardizing their bottom line and overall existence. Doug Lodder, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 The drought has made trees and brush dry and brittle -- easy for wildfires to burn through. Stephanie Elam, CNN, 30 Sep. 2021 That includes the people who laugh and say he’s brittle and injury-prone. Dennis Waszak Jr.,, 14 Aug. 2021 Her naturally long fingernails started to get brittle and break. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 8 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Peele thought the brittle had an odd aftertaste of spice and smoke. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 26 Sep. 2021 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

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

24 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Brittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 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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