adj. brit·tler, brit·tlest
a. Likely to break, snap, or crack, as when subjected to pressure: brittle bones.
b. Easily damaged or disrupted; fragile: a brittle friendship. See Synonyms at fragile.
a. Difficult to deal with; snappish: a brittle disposition.
b. Lacking warmth of feeling; cold: a reputation for being brittle and aloof.
3. Brilliantly sharp, as in percussive sound.
b. Fleeting; transitory.
A confection of caramelized sugar to which nuts are added: walnut brittle.
[Middle English britel, probably from Old English *brytel, from bryttian, to shatter.]
brittle·ly (brĭtl-ē) adv.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.