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,
to walk the streets, especially as an unemployed or homeless person.
to go on strike: With contract talks stalled, workers are threatening to hit the bricks.
Also, take to the bricks.
make bricks without straw,
to plan or act on a false premise or unrealistic basis.
to create something that will not last: To form governments without the consent of the people is to make bricks without straw.
to perform a task despite the lack of necessary materials.

1400–50; late Middle English brike < Middle Dutch bricke; akin to break

bricklike, brickish, adjective
unbricked, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
brick (brɪk)
1.  a.  a rectangular block of clay mixed with sand and fired in a kiln or baked by the sun, used in building construction
 b.  (as modifier): a brick house
2.  the material used to make such blocks
3.  any rectangular block: a brick of ice
4.  bricks collectively
5.  informal a reliable, trustworthy, or helpful person
6.  (Brit) a child's building block
7.  short for brick red
8.  informal (Brit) drop a brick to make a tactless or indiscreet remark
9.  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
vb (usually foll by in, up or over)
10.  to construct, line, pave, fill, or wall up with bricks: to brick up a window; brick over a patio
11.  slang to attack (a person) with a brick or bricks
[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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 15c., from O.Fr. briche "brick," probably from a Gmc. source akin to M.Du. bricke "a tile," lit. "a broken piece," from the verbal root of break. Meaning "a good fellow" is from 1840. The verb meaning "to wall up with bricks" is from 1640s. Brick wall in the figurative
sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with brick, also see drop a brick; hit the bricks; like a cat on a hot brick; like a ton of bricks; make bricks without straw; run into a stone (brick) wall.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


structural clay products, manufactured as standard units, used in building construction.

Learn more about brick with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
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
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.
Image for brick
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