AskDefine | Define friable

Dictionary Definition

friable adj
1 easily broken into small fragments or reduced to powder; "friable sandstone"; "friable carcinomatous tissue"; "friable curds formed in the stomach"
2 (used of soil) loose and large-grained in consistency; "light sandy soil" [syn: light, sandy]

User Contributed Dictionary



Latin friābilis, from friāre, "to crumble".



  1. Easily broken into small fragments, crumbled, or reduced to powder.
    • 1977: Spiders had woven their vague trapezes between the friable heads of dead peonies in enormous glass jars streaked with tide marks where the water had evaporated long ago. — Angela Carter, The Passion of New Eve
  2. In the context of "of soil": Loose and large-grained in consistency.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

Friability means the ability to reduce a solid substance into smaller pieces with little effort.
Often, substances designated as being hazardous, such as asbestos or crystalline silica are referred to as being friable if they are present in such a state that it is possible for small particles to become dislodged, thus enabling them to become respirable (able to enter human lungs), posing a health hazard.
A friable substance is any substance that can be reduced to fibres or finer particles by the action of comparatively little pressure or friction on its mass, such as inadvertently brushing up against the substance. The term could also apply to any material that exhibits these properties. Examples include but are not limited to:
Tougher substances, such as concrete may also be mechanically ground down and reduced to finely divided mineral dust. However, such substances are not generally considered friable because of the degree of difficulty involved in breaking the substance's chemical bonds through mechanical means. Some substances, such as polyurethane foams, can increase in friability with exposure to ultraviolet radiation (such as is present in sunlight).

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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