(third-person singular simple present brits, present participle britting, simple past and past participle britted)
- To break in pieces; divide.
- To bruise; indent.
- (intransitive) To fall out or shatter (as overripe hops or grain).
- (intransitive, dialectal) To fade away; alter.
From Middle English brytten, brutten, from Old English brittian, bryttian (“to divide, dispense, distribute, rule over, possess, enjoy the use of”), from Proto-Germanic *brutjaną (“to break, divide”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreud- (“to break”). Cognate with Icelandic brytja (“to chop up, break in pieces, slaughter”), Swedish bryta (“to break, fracture, cut off”), Danish bryde (“to break”) and Albanian brydh (“I make crumbly, friable, soft”). Related to Old English brytta (“dispenser, giver, author, governor, prince”), Old English brēotan (“to break in pieces, hew down, demolish, destroy, kill”).
Probably from Middle English bret or birt, applied to a different kind of fish. See bret.
1901, either a shortening of Britisher or Briton, or a back-formation from British.