brittle, adj.

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 17 01:56:26 UTC 2010

IMO, OED does poorly by this staple of the book-reviewing trade. AFAIK, it
generally means "well written or clever but lacking substance or depth;
attractive but inconsequential."  Def. 4 comes closest but nowhere near
a cigar: "*fig.* Frail, weak; insecure, unstable; †transitory (*obs.*).
Later also: manifesting signs of instability or nervousness, esp. despite an
outward show of cheerfulness or decisiveness."


1953 _New Yorker_ (June 6) 150:  Mr. Baron, who feels deeply about his
fellow-human beings but who gets a little weary, or a little ashamed, when
it comes to saying how he feels, here presents a series of short, brittle
sketches of Englishmen at the beginning of a war, in the middle of a war,
and at the end of a war.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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