There are 2 main definitions of brick in English:

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brick 1

Pronunciation: /brɪk/


1A small rectangular block typically made of fired or sun-dried clay, used in building.
Example sentences
  • Mud and wattle or sun-dried bricks are used in house building in rural areas; well-off families may use concrete blocks.
  • In Guinea, most new small buildings are made of badly fired bricks, and have corrugated metal roofs.
  • Cracked mortar between bricks should also be repointed by carefully removing and replacing any unsound mortar.
1.1 [mass noun] Bricks collectively as a building material: this mill was built of brick [as modifier]: a large brick building
More example sentences
  • Woodlawn is brick, a building material rarely used in early nineteenth-century Maine where lumber was so plentiful.
  • Wall materials such as stucco, cement, brick, plaster, stone, and block are most resistant to high temperatures.
  • The primary building material was large adobe brick, and huge pyramids towered above the city.
1.2A small rectangular object: a brick of ice cream
More example sentences
  • Get a brick of white, scent-free glycerin soap from the craft store.
  • Think of a beautiful counter with nothing to chop on it, except a brick of ice.
  • She remembered selling him a brick of hash out of the broken down toilet stall.
1.3British A child’s toy building block: the bricks and other plastic toys then need to be fitted back into their appropriate containers
More example sentences
  • We hadn't come 5,000 miles to a land of forests to spend our time pining for theme parks made out of little plastic bricks.
  • They're designed to fit together in a stack, just like the famous Danish plastic bricks.
  • Thanks to his wooden toy bricks, he had mastered ‘the laws of practical stability in towers and arches’.
2 informal A large and relatively heavy mobile phone, typically an early model with limited functionality: I had one of those Motorola bricks as my first cell phone
More example sentences
  • It was a large brick with a massive battery issued by someone like Motorola.
  • The classic brick phone had an LED screen and boasted 30 minutes of talk time with eight hours of standby.
  • The first hand-held phones, affectionately known as "bricks", were still big and bulky, only made voice calls, and cost more than $4000.
2.1A smartphone or other electronic device that has completely ceased to function: while updating the firmware the USB cable got disconnected and the phone is now a brick
More example sentences
  • The 4.0.1 update has turned my phone into a brick.
  • I need to somehow upgrade my Android 2.2 to 2.3 or higher - not as easy as you think without turning your cell into a brick.
  • Cracked screens, broken casings and malfunctioning operating systems short-circuited by moisture damage or dust infiltration can cause massive headaches and turn an expensive device into a useless brick.
3British informal, dated A generous, helpful, and reliable person: ‘You are really a brick, Vi,’ Gloria said
More example sentences
  • Mr. Hall is such a brick, that when we get back he is going to take us all in.
  • He's a brick, a chip off the old block, a good 'un.
  • Large, jolly and boisterous, Carol is regarded as something of a brick, and there are sound reasons for the affection she commands.


[with object]
1Block or enclose with a wall of bricks: the doors have been bricked up
More example sentences
  • The walls were bricked but filled with sports pictures and the booths were all different colors.
  • Those windows were bricked in because to do so was far cheaper than making the needed structural repairs.
  • Some of the doors were bolted shut, some were bricked up.
2British informal Throw bricks at: the pub was attacked and windows in the area were bricked
More example sentences
  • The action threat follows an incident on Saturday night when a Stagecoach service was bricked as it travelled down Bowerham Road towards Lancaster city centre.
  • In Chapelfields last night, a vehicle was damaged as youths held a wire or rope in front of it, and in Danebury Drive, Acomb, a bus was bricked.
  • The robocops appeared from nowhere and got bricked and bottled but managed to block us in.
3 informal Cause (a smartphone or other electronic device) to become completely unable to function, typically on a permanent basis: installing an unofficial OS voids the warranty and may brick the phone
More example sentences
  • The last time we did a major over-the-air update on a phone, it bricked a perfectly good Sony Ericsson.
  • I called customer service and their suggestions bricked the phone.
  • Not all ROMs work on all phones and you can definitely brick your phone by failing to flash a ROM correctly.
4 (be bricking oneself) British vulgar slang Be extremely worried or nervous.



a brick short of a load

see short.

bricks and mortar

Buildings, typically housing: untold acres are being buried under bricks and mortar
More example sentences
  • There would be no need to pay for the bricks and mortar and the other services provided by traditional colleges.
  • Direct sales - which includes the bricks and mortar retail stores - was up 45 per cent for the quarter.
  • That means we will enjoy three times the profitability of traditional bricks and mortar grocers.
2.1A house considered in terms of its value as an investment: a simple re-mortgage can release the value tied up in your bricks and mortar
More example sentences
  • We employ Inuit people and we've invested in bricks and mortar in Nunavut.
  • People preferred to invest in bricks and mortar rather than in volatile equities.
  • Most aim to help producers gain more clout in the marketplace without investing in bricks and mortar.
[as modifier]2.2 Used to denote a business that operates conventionally rather than (or as well as) over the Internet: the bricks-and-mortar banks
More example sentences
  • Marketers have to be careful about comparing Internet shopping with bricks-and-mortar shopping, LaPointe warned.
  • But other bricks-and-mortar businesses have found a home in cyberspace.
  • Highly digitized, the transaction process is conceptually similar for both the bricks-and-mortar and the virtual banks.

brick by brick

A little bit at a time: he built IBM brick by brick from an agglomeration of small enterprises
More example sentences
  • On 12 August, Ben Smith wrote a column in The Guardian in which he took the politician apart, brick by brick.
  • Propagandists exhorted the weary populace to rebuild the country, which they did, brick by brick, despite the harangues.
  • The solution is to undo the last 35 years, brick by brick.

come up against (or hit) a brick wall

Face an insuperable problem or obstacle while trying to do something: at this age when you come up against a brick wall, you do sometimes feel like screaming with frustration
More example sentences
  • I have talked to many people, but I keep hitting a brick wall.
  • Sadly, this approach seemingly hit a brick wall too.
  • Will efforts to end the election crisis hit a brick wall?

like a ton of bricks

informal With crushing weight, force, or authority: the FA came down on him like a ton of bricks
More example sentences
  • I desperately tried to remember what had happened last night and suddenly, it fell upon me like a ton of bricks.
  • As she stared at her reflection in the mirror, the enormity of the situation fell around her like a ton of bricks.
  • Realization hit her like a ton of bricks and she staggered under the weight of it.

London to a brick on

Australian informal Used to indicate that something is certain or highly probable: I will bet you London to a brick on that this goes nowhere
Early 20th century: from obsolete slang brick 'ten pound note', from the reddish-brown colour of the note
More example sentences
  • I'm prepared to bet London to a brick she won't win gold!
  • Given the defensive posture, it's London to a brick that Rogers will go to 13.
  • I would lay London to a brick that that circumstance won't prevail much longer.

you can't make bricks without straw

proverb Nothing can be made or accomplished without proper or adequate material or information.
With biblical allusion to Exod. 5; ‘without straw’ meant ‘without having straw provided’ (i.e. the Israelites were required to gather the straw for themselves). A misinterpretation has led to the current sense
Example sentences
  • It's no good trying to build a website if you don't know any html, you can't make bricks without straw.
  • The law of value will still be there reminding us that, even under socialism, you can't make bricks without straw.
  • You can't make bricks without straw and you can't portray a character just by making him up from within yourself.


Late Middle English: from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch bricke, brike; probably reinforced by Old French brique; of unknown ultimate origin.

  • English brick is found only from the middle of the 15th century. It was probably introduced by Flemish workmen, for it is a Low German word and Flemings were associated with early brick making. Use of the word was probably reinforced by Old French brique ‘a form of loaf’. Some French dialects still have the phrase brique de pain ‘piece of bread’. The ultimate origin is unknown.

Words that rhyme with brick

artic, chick, click, crick, flick, hand-pick, hic, hick, kick, lick, mick, miskick, nick, pic, pick, quick, rick, shtick, sic, sick, slick, snick, stick, thick, tic, tick, trick, Vic, wick

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Line breaks: brick

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There are 2 main definitions of brick in English:

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Brick 2

Pronunciation: /brik/

Entry from US English dictionary

A township in southeastern New Jersey; population 78,419 (est. 2008).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Brick

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