Brickle vs. Brittle - What's the difference?


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.

Brickle vs. Brittle


Table of contents

1. Pronunciation
          2.1. Adjective
          3.1. Verb
                    3.1.1. Related terms


1. Pronunciation

  • Rhymes: -ɪkəl

2. Etymology 1

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.

2.1. Adjective


  1. (Appalachia or archaic or dialect) Alternative form of breakle
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Edmund Spenser to this entry?)

3. Etymology 2

From the Bricklin, a failed automobile.

3.1. Verb

brickle (third-person singular simple present brickles, present participle brickling, simple past and past participle brickled)

  1. (Canada, dialect) To fail spectacularly.
    • How to Brickle: The New Brunswick Funny Book (1977, →ISBN
  • brickly


1. Etymology

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.

2. Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪtl̩/
  • Rhymes: -ɪtəl

3. Adjective

brittle (comparative brittler or more brittle, superlative brittlest or most brittle)

  1. Inflexible, liable to break or snap easily under stress or pressure.
    Cast iron is much more brittle than forged iron.
    A diamond is hard but brittle.
    • 1977, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Penguin Classics, p. 329:
      'Do you suppose our convent, and I too, / Are insufficient, then, to pray for you? / Thomas, that joke's not good. Your faith is brittle.
  2. Not physically tough or tenacious; apt to break or crumble when bending.
    • Shortbread is my favorite cold pastry, yet being so brittle it crumbles easily, and a lot goes to waste.
  3. (archaeology) Said of rocks and minerals with a conchoidal fracture; capable of being knapped or flaked.
  4. Emotionally fragile, easily offended.
    What a brittle personality! A little misunderstanding and he's an emotional wreck.
  5. (informal, proscribed) Diabetes that is characterized by dramatic swings in blood sugar level.

3.1. Derived terms

  • brittleness
  • quasibrittle

4. Noun

brittle (usually uncountable, plural brittles)

  1. A confection of caramelized sugar and nuts.
    As a child, my favorite candy was peanut brittle.
  2. Anything resembling this confection, such as flapjack, a cereal bar, etc.

4.1. Synonyms

  • brickle

5. See also

  • break, breakable
  • short (adjective)

6. References

  • brittle in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913

7. Anagrams

  • blitter, triblet
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