9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[brik] /brɪk/
a block of clay hardened by drying in the sun or burning in a kiln, and used for building, paving, etc.: traditionally, in the U.S., a rectangle 2.25 × 3.75 × 8 inches (5.7 × 9.5 × 20.3 cm), red, brown, or yellow in color.
such blocks collectively.
the material of which such blocks are made.
any block or bar having a similar size and shape:
a gold brick; an ice-cream brick.
the length of a brick as a measure of thickness, as of a wall:
one and a half bricks thick.
Informal. an admirably good or generous person.
Informal. an electronic device that has become completely nonfunctional.
verb (used with object)
to pave, line, wall, fill, or build with brick.
Informal. to cause (an electronic device) to become completely nonfunctional:
I bricked my phone while doing the upgrade.
made of, constructed with, or resembling bricks.
drop a brick, to make a social gaffe or blunder, especially an indiscreet remark.
hit the bricks,
  1. to walk the streets, especially as an unemployed or homeless person.
  2. to go on strike:
    With contract talks stalled, workers are threatening to hit the bricks.
Also, take to the bricks.
make bricks without straw,
  1. to plan or act on a false premise or unrealistic basis.
  2. to create something that will not last:
    To form governments without the consent of the people is to make bricks without straw.
  3. to perform a task despite the lack of necessary materials.
Origin of brick
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English brike < Middle Dutch bricke; akin to break
Related forms
bricklike, brickish, adjective
unbricked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for brick
  • If there is a correlation, a guard opens the bag to see whether the brick is a chunk of explosive or a block of cheese.
  • Stacks of concrete block, brick and stone that depend on them always outlast them.
  • The reality, however, was a charmless room with a dated fireplace covered in brick and hand-painted drywall.
  • Inset stainless steel tiles on the fireplace echo and update the painted brick on the original fireplace.
  • Time and again researchers have obtained tantalizing preliminary results only to run up against a brick wall later.
  • Applying that to cell phones would produce the high function retro-brick phone.
  • At best they had a brick building surrounding the entire facility not the reactor.
  • The driverless locomotive of our collective fate will charge on until it hits a brick wall.
  • If you don't have a dual flush toilet put a brick into the cistern to reduce capacity.
  • Well, there are brick and mortar universities, and then there are brick and mortar universities.
British Dictionary definitions for brick


  1. a rectangular block of clay mixed with sand and fired in a kiln or baked by the sun, used in building construction
  2. (as modifier): a brick house
the material used to make such blocks
any rectangular block: a brick of ice
bricks collectively
(informal) a reliable, trustworthy, or helpful person
(Brit) a child's building block
short for brick red
(Brit, informal) drop a brick, to make a tactless or indiscreet remark
(informal) like a ton of bricks, (used esp of the manner of punishing or reprimanding someone) with great force; severely: when he spotted my mistake he came down on me like a ton of bricks
verb (transitive)
usually foll by in, up or over. to construct, line, pave, fill, or wall up with bricks: to brick up a window, brick over a patio
(slang) to attack (a person) with a brick or bricks
Word Origin
C15: from Old French brique, from Middle Dutch bricke; related to Middle Low German brike, Old English brecan to break
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for brick

early 15c., from Old French briche "brick," probably from a Germanic source akin to Middle Dutch bricke "a tile," literally "a broken piece," from the verbal root of break (v.). Meaning "a good, honest fellow" is from 1840, probably on notion of squareness (e.g. fair and square) though most extended senses of brick (and square) applied to persons in English are not meant to be complimentary. Brick wall in the figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886.


"to wall up with bricks," 1640s, from brick (n.). Related: Bricked; bricking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for brick


  1. A decent, generous, reliable person (1830s+ British students)
  2. A kilogram (2.2 pounds) of tightly compacted marijuana (1970s+ Narcotics)
  3. Avery inaccurate basketball shot (1980s+ Students)
Related Terms

drop a brick, hit someone like a ton of bricks, hit the bricks, press the bricks, shit a brick, three bricks shy of a load

[first sense said to be a clever student version of Aristotle's phrase tetragonos aner, ''four-sided man, foursquare man,'' used in the Nichomachean Ethics to describe a person of public merit whose praise might appear on a square monument of tribute]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with brick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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