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.
alternative form of breakle
To fail spectacularly.
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.”
Not physically tough or tenacious; apt to break or crumble when bending.
Said of rocks and minerals with a conchoidal fracture; capable of being knapped or flaked.
Emotionally fragile, easily offended.
“What a brittle personality! A little misunderstanding and he’s an emotional wreck.””
Diabetes that is characterized by dramatic swings in blood sugar level.
A confection of caramelized sugar and nuts.
“As a child, my favorite candy was peanut brittle.”
Anything resembling this confection, such as flapjack, a cereal bar, etc.