Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Likely to break, snap, or crack, as when subjected to pressure.
  • adjective Easily damaged or disrupted; fragile: synonym: fragile.
  • adjective Difficult to deal with; snappish.
  • adjective Lacking warmth of feeling; cold.
  • adjective Brilliantly sharp, as in percussive sound.
  • adjective Perishable.
  • adjective Fleeting; transitory.
  • noun A confection of caramelized sugar to which nuts are added.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Easily broken; apt to break; fragile; not tough or tenacious.
  • adjective the mineral stephanite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English britel, probably from Old English *brytel, from bryttian, to shatter.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.

Examples

Comments

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  • "As a teen, Christopher Hitchens was a voracious but directionless reader, later recalling, “I was too brittle to decide among so many possible treats.”"

    Source: What does it mean for a journalist today to be a Serious Reader?

    January 22, 2018