\ \ [14] Brittle probably comes from a Germanic stem *brut- ‘break’, which had several descendants in Old English (including the verbs brēotan and gebryttanbreak’) that did not survive the Norman Conquest. It came in a more than usual profusion of spellings in Middle English (bretil, brutil, etc), not all of which may be the same word; brottle, for instance, current from the 14th to the 16th century, may well have come from the aforementioned Old English brēotan. There is also the synonymous brickle [15], which survived dialectally into the 20th century; this is related ultimately to break.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • brittle — [brit′ l] adj. [ME britel < OE breotan, to break to pieces; akin to ON brjota < IE * bhreu < base * bher , to cut with a sharp point] 1. easily broken or shattered because hard and inflexible 2. having a sharp, hard quality [brittle… …   English World dictionary

  • Brittle — Brit tle, a. [OE. britel, brutel, AS. bryttian to dispense, fr. bre[ o]tan to break; akin to Icel. brytja, Sw. bryta, Dan. bryde. Cf. {Brickle}.] Easily broken; apt to break; fragile; not tough or tenacious. [1913 Webster] Farewell, thou pretty,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • brittle — M.E. britel, perhaps from an unrecorded O.E. adj. *brytel, related to brytan to crush, pound, to break to pieces, from P.Gmc. stem *brutila brittle, from *breutan to break up (Cf. O.N. brjota to break, O.H.G. brodi fragile ), and related to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • brittle — [adj1] fragile breakable, crisp, crumbling, crumbly, delicate, frail, frangible, friable, inelastic, shatterable, shivery, vitreous, weak; concepts 488,606 Ant. durable, flexible, moveable, resilient, supple brittle [adj2] tense curt, edgy,… …   New thesaurus

  • brittle — ► ADJECTIVE 1) hard but liable to break or shatter easily. 2) hard or superficial in a way that masks nervousness or instability. ► NOUN ▪ a brittle sweet made from nuts and set melted sugar. DERIVATIVES brittleness noun. ORIGIN related to an Old …   English terms dictionary

  • brittle — index nonsubstantial (not sturdy) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • brittle — crisp, *fragile, frangible, short, friable Analogous words: *hardened, indurated Antonyms: supple Contrasted words: *elastic, resilient, springy, flexible: tough, tenacious, *strong, stout …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • brittle — [[t]brɪ̱t(ə)l[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED An object or substance that is brittle is hard but easily broken. Pine is brittle and breaks. ...the dry, brittle ends of the hair. 2) ADJ GRADED If you describe a situation, relationship, or someone s mood as… …   English dictionary

  • brittle — UK [ˈbrɪt(ə)l] / US adjective Word forms brittle : adjective brittle comparative brittler superlative brittlest 1) a) a brittle substance or object is hard and can easily break into pieces Don t pack fragile or brittle objects in your suitcase.… …   English dictionary

  • brittle — I. adjective (brittler; brittlest) Etymology: Middle English britil; akin to Old English brēotan to break, Old Norse brjōta Date: 14th century 1. a. easily broken, cracked, or snapped < brittle clay > < brittle glass > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • brittle — brit|tle [ brıtl ] adjective 1. ) a brittle substance or object is hard and can easily break into pieces: Don t pack fragile or brittle objects in your suitcase. a ) a brittle relationship or situation is not very strong and could easily be… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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