Definition of brittle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbridl/


1Hard but liable to break or shatter easily: her bones became fragile and brittle
More example sentences
  • Quartz is a very hard stone; it's also brittle and breaks easily into small chunks.
  • The Earth's crust, as with many planetary crusts, is brittle and breaks relatively easily.
  • In severe cases, nails may become brittle and break easily.
breakable, fragile, delicate;
formal frangible
1.1(Of a sound, especially a person’s voice) unpleasantly hard and sharp and showing signs of instability or nervousness: a brittle laugh
More example sentences
  • O'Toole's clear blue eyes and brittle voice flood with so much anguish and pain that even Pitt's fixed pout and the awful lines cannot make a laughable travesty of the scene.
  • When he spoke again, his voice was brittle.
  • Other songs recall Joy Division and Depeche Mode, as his brittle voice tiptoes to center stage with only a spare backing of guitars and drum loops.
harsh, hard, sharp, grating
1.2(Of a person or behavior) appearing aggressive or hard but unstable or nervous within: her manner was artificially bright and brittle
More example sentences
  • So much so that, in meeting Streep, an edge of brittle insecurity appears faintly visible beneath her ageless face and coolly cordial manner.
  • Hearst's world is populated by nervous, brittle sophisticates who jump joylessly around when the potentate's mistress orders them to Charleston: cats on a very hot tin roof.
  • Poets, popularly, are delicate petals, emotionally brittle and easily roused.
edgy, anxious, unstable, high-strung, tense, excitable, jumpy, skittish, neurotic
informal uptight


A candy made from nuts and set melted sugar: peanut brittle
More example sentences
  • Since 1964, this family-owned shop in historic Old Sacramento has been turning out vats of old-fashioned candy kettle delights like nut brittles, buttery toffee, and caramel corn.
  • But explorers would not eat prissy little candy canes and peanut brittle when they could tear into a hamburger, would they?
  • It has a delicious malty aroma with hints of heather and honey and rich, sweet, nutty undertones like sugared almonds or peanut brittle.



(or brittly) adverb
Example sentences
  • ‘Please, don't call me that,’ he said brittly, ‘That's what my parents always call me… ‘Saoirse glanced up at him, catching the agitated tone in his voice.’
  • Field observations of brittly deformed granular rock have shown that the extent and magnitude of fault-related damage zone strain is influenced by the distribution of fault slip.
  • Deformation bands have been referred to by various terminologies in reports of field observations and laboratory experiments of brittly deformed porous rock.


Pronunciation: /ˈbridlnəs/
Example sentences
  • An overdose can be harmful to bones and skin, causing weakness and brittleness, even leading to fatigue and vomiting.
  • Add the rice and turn up the heat, stirring to coat the rice and prevent it from sticking, and cook until a nutty smell and slight brittleness tell you it's time to add the liquid (about five minutes).
  • An effect of fluoride is that it causes brittleness, and it is interesting to note that the majority of dentists recommend using fluoride toothpaste but do no support fluoridation of the water supply.


Late Middle English, ultimately of Germanic origin and related to Old English brēotan 'break up'.

Words that rhyme with brittle

acquittal, belittle, committal, embrittle, it'll, kittle, little, remittal, skittle, spittle, tittle, victual, whittle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: brit·tle

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