From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



A brickbat (noun sense 1).

The noun is derived from brick +‎ bat (a bit, piece; specifically, part of a brick with one whole end).[1] The verb is derived from the noun.[2]



brickbat (plural brickbats)

  1. A piece of brick, rock, etc., especially when used as a weapon (for example, thrown or placed in a sock or other receptacle and used as a club).
    • [1563 March 30 (Gregorian calendar), John Foxe, “George Tākerfield [Tankerfield] a Faythful Martyr and Witnes of the Gospel, Constantly Suffering for the Testimonie of the Same”, in Actes and Monuments of These Latter and Perillous Dayes, [], London: [] Iohn Day, [], →OCLC, book V, page 1251 [1320]:
      [S]he sēt [sent] a brick back after him & hit him on þe back, []]
    • 1687 February, John Aubrey, “Lotts”, in James Britten, editor, Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme, London: [F]or The Folk-lore Society by W. Satchell, Peyton, and Co., [], published 1881, →OCLC, page 91:
      [Y]e body of King Charles the First was privately putt into the Sand about White-hall; and the coffin that was carried to Windsor and layd in K. Hen[ry] 8th's vault was filled with rubbish, or brick-batts.
      Used to refer to brick rubble.
    • 1897 March 13 – June 19, Richard Marsh [pseudonym; Richard Bernard Heldmann], “What was Hidden under the Floor”, in The Beetle (The Adelphi Library; 4), London: T[homas] Fisher Unwin, [], published 1920, →OCLC, book IV (In Pursuit), page 275:
      Fragments of glass kept company with the dust on the floor, together with a choice collection of stones, brickbats, and other missiles,—which not improbably were the cause of their being there.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter 3, in Jeeves in the Offing, Harmondsworth, Middlesex [London]: Penguin Books, published 1963 (1975 printing), →OCLC, page 33:
      No doubt he, like me, had been buoying himself up for years with the thought that we should never meet again and that, whatever brickbats life might have in store for him, he had at least got Bertram out of his system. A nasty jar it must have been for the poor bloke having me suddenly pop up from a trap like this.
  2. (figurative) A piece of (sharp) criticism or a (highly) uncomplimentary remark.
    Antonym: bouquet
    • 1642 April, John Milton, An Apology for Smectymnuus; republished in A Complete Collection of the Historical, Political, and Miscellaneous Works of John Milton, [], volume I, Amsterdam [actually London: s.n.], 1698, →OCLC, page 179:
      I beſeech ye friends, ere the brickbats flye, reſolve me and your ſelves, is it blasphemy, or any vvhit diſagreeing from Chriſtian meekneſſe, [] for me to anſvver a ſlovenly vvincer of a confutation, that, if he vvould needs put his foot to ſuch a ſvveaty ſervice, the odour of his Sock vvas like to be neither Musk, nor Benjamin?
    • 1843 April, Thomas Carlyle, “The Didactic”, in Past and Present, American edition, Boston, Mass.: Charles C[offin] Little and James Brown, published 1843, →OCLC, book IV (Horoscope), pages 292–293:
      Not honoured, hardly even envied; only fools and the flunkey-species so much as envy me. I am conspicuous,—as a mark for curses and brickbats. What good is it?
    • 2008 June 26, “Manmohan Singh’s burning ambition”, in The Economist[1], London: The Economist Group, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-07-25:
      And Mr [Manmohan] Singh has little control over this mutinous mix; his party boss, Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of a murdered Congress leader, runs the show. This arrangement has assured Mr Singh many brickbats, and little freedom to dodge.
    • 2020 February 7, Shashi Tharoor, “Shashi Tharoor’s Word of the Week: Brickbat”, in Hindustan Times[2], New Delhi: HT Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2023-05-21:
      A broken bone heals far more quickly and durably than the emotional and psychic injuries inflicted by a savage word, which is where the brickbat derives its power. The many libel and defamation suits that litter the courts show that the figurative brickbat hurts just as much as, if not more than, the literal one.

Derived terms[edit]



brickbat (third-person singular simple present brickbats, present participle brickbatting, simple past and past participle brickbatted) (transitive, dated except South Asia)

  1. To attack (someone or something) by swinging or throwing brickbats (noun sense 1).
    • 1904, “Crime in Georgia”, in W[illiam] E[dward] Burghardt Du Bois, editor, Some Notes on Negro Crime, Particularly in Georgia [] (The Atlanta University Publications; 9), Atlanta, Ga.: Atlanta University Press, →OCLC, page 38:
      We had two boys arrested, both colored, for brick-batting a colored woman in her house. They were sent to the chaingang for 12 months each.
  2. (figurative) To assail (someone or something) with (sharp) criticism.



  1. ^ brickbat, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023; “brickbat, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ brickbat, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.