A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant plastic deformation. Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength. Breaking is often accompanied by a snapping sound. Brittle materials include most ceramics and glasses (which do not deform plastically) and some polymers, such as PMMA and polystyrene. Many steels become brittle at low temperatures (see ductile-brittle transition temperature), depending on their composition and processing. When used in materials science, it is generally applied to materials that fail when there is little or no plastic deformation before failure. One proof is to match the broken halves, which should fit exactly since no plastic deformation has occurred. When a material has reached the limit of its strength, it usually has the option of either deformation or fracture. A naturally malleable metal can be made stronger by impeding the mechanisms of plastic deformation (reducing grain size, precipitation hardening, work hardening, etc.), but if this is taken to an extreme, fracture becomes the more likely outcome, and the material can become brittle. Improving material toughness is therefore a balancing act.
From Middle English brikel, brekil, brukel (“easily broken or shattered”), from Old English *brycel, *brucol (as in hūsbrycel (“burglarious”, literally “house-breaking”), scipbrucol (“destructive to shipping, causing shipwreck”, literally “ship-breaking”), equivalent to break + -le. See also breakle.
From the Bricklin, a failed automobile.
brickle (third-person singular simple present brickles, present participle brickling, simple past and past participle brickled)
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.
brittle (comparative brittler or more brittle, superlative brittlest or most brittle)
brittle (usually uncountable, plural brittles)