Difference between Brittle and Fragile

Key Difference: Brittle and Fragile are synonyms. Brittle materials are hard but easily broken. On the contrary, fragile materials are very easily broken.

Brittle and Fragile are adjectives and they are the two words that often create confusion. The words apply to the material that breaks easily. The differences is subtle and general; they both are used interchangeably.

Brittle materials require more of a steel or soft material. The materials like plastic, bronze, toffees are some of its types. Though, brittle is hard, it doesn’t require any effort to break into pieces. It doesn’t require any strength. Brittle can be any solid material which can break easily like non-metal materials, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. 

Dictionary.com defines ‘Brittle’ as:

  • Having hardness and rigidity but little tensile strength; breaking readily with a comparatively smooth fracture, as glass.
  • Easily damaged or destroyed; fragile; frail: a brittle marriage.
  • Lacking warmth, sensitivity, or compassion; aloof; self-centered: a self-possessed, cool, and rather brittle person.
  • Having a sharp, tense quality: a brittle tone of voice.
  • Unstable or impermanent; evanescent.

Generally, a brittle strength of a material is increased by pressure. Thus, the chances of cracking a material are little less expected. The brittle materials are mostly of steel or plastic.

On the other hand, a Fragile material is the most common material or a product, used in our day-to-day activity as synonym of ‘delicate’ or ‘frail’. Glass is the best example for fragile. Fragile word can be used for a person, songs, albums, labels, films, games etc. Fragile means the thing which can be broken easily. Thus, it can be applied in any sense. A heart is also fragile. Consider the sentence: 'My heart was fragile. You broke it like it was made of glass."

Dictionary.com defines ‘Fragile’ as:

  • Easily broken, shattered, or damaged; delicate; brittle; frail: a fragile ceramic container; a very fragile alliance.
  • Vulnerably delicate, as in appearance: She has a fragile beauty.
  • Lacking in substance or force; flimsy: a fragile excuse.

Examples for brittle and fragile are as follows:

Brittle examples –

  • Peanut-brittle (is a type of candy with nuts in it).
  • Her teeth became brittle from breast-feeding too many babies and not taking calcium.
  • Her bones were brittle and prone to breakage (items that infer dryness and inability to flex or bend).

Fragile examples -

  • The porcelain doll is so fragile
  • The figurines are fragile
  • The Christmas tree ornaments are fragile
  • A new born baby is fragile

Thus, brittle and fragile both are similar to each other. Brittle is stronger and can’t be easily broken as fragile, whereas, fragile is a material which can be broken very easily.

Image Courtesy: szsifang.com, 4.bp.blogspot.com

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