Word of the Day: brittle

Word of the Day
May 18, 2016
brittle (adjective, verb)
/ˈbrɪtəl/   sound icon
Peanut brittle
When something is brittle, it means that, even though it's hard, it's easy to break. For example, a thin sheet of ice can be brittle. This can also be used figuratively to talk about a person, meaning that they appear strong and cheerful but they are actually tense and nervous. In reference to a person, it can also mean 'lacking sensitivity or compassion.' When it describes a tone of voice, it means 'sharp and unpleasant' or 'tense and nervous.' As a verb, brittle means 'to make or become brittle.'


Example sentences
I wish my fingernails weren't so brittle; I'd love to be able to grow them long.
John tried to hide his grief with brittle cheerfulness.
Vera's brittle manner upset her daughter.
The boss barked out commands in a brittle tone.
The passengers were anxious and spoke to each other in brittle voices.
The sun had brittled the bark of the tree.


Did you know?
As a noun, brittle is also a type of candy, made of melted sugar and nuts, that is hard but is easy to break.
Other forms
brittlely (adverb), brittleness (noun)
Brittle dates back to the second half of the 14th century and comes from the Middle English word britel, equivalent to brit– (akin to the Old English brysten, meaning 'fragment') + -el.
Brittle in other languages
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