Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Likely to break, snap, or crack, as when subjected to pressure: brittle bones.
  • adj. Easily damaged or disrupted; fragile: a brittle friendship. See Synonyms at fragile.
  • adj. Difficult to deal with; snappish: a brittle disposition.
  • adj. Lacking warmth of feeling; cold: a reputation for being brittle and aloof.
  • adj. Brilliantly sharp, as in percussive sound.
  • adj. Perishable.
  • adj. Fleeting; transitory.
  • n. A confection of caramelized sugar to which nuts are added: walnut brittle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Inflexible, liable to break or snap easily under stress or pressure.
  • adj. Not physically tough or tenacious; apt to break or crumble when bending.
  • adj. Said of rocks and minerals with a conchoidal fracture; capable of being knapped or flaked.
  • adj. Emotionally fragile, easily offended.
  • n. A confection of caramelized sugar and nuts.
  • n. Anything resembling this confection, such as flapjack, a cereal bar, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Easily broken; apt to break; fragile; not tough or tenacious.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 1. Fickle; changeable.
  • Breaking easily and suddenly with a comparatively smooth fracture, as glass; fragile; not tough or tenacious.
  • Figuratively, easily destroyed; perishable; fleeting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. caramelized sugar cooled in thin sheets
  • adj. having little elasticity; hence easily cracked or fractured or snapped
  • adj. lacking warmth and generosity of spirit
  • adj. (of metal or glass) not annealed and consequently easily cracked or fractured

Etymologies

Middle English britel, probably from Old English *brytel, from bryttian, to shatter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English britel, brutel, brotel ("brittle"), from Old English *brytel, *bryttol ("brittle, fragile", literally "prone to or tending to break"), equivalent to brit +‎ -le. More at brit. (Wiktionary)

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