Etymology
Advertisement
brick (n.)

"rectangular block of artificial stone (usually clay burned in a kiln) used as a building material," early 15c., from Old French briche "brick," which is probably from a Germanic source akin to Middle Dutch bricke "a tile," etymologically "a bit, a fragment, a piece broken off," from the verbal root of break (v.).

Of a brick-shaped loaf by 1735. Meaning "a good, honest fellow" is from 1840, probably on notion of squareness (as in fair and square), though in English brick and square when applied to persons generally are not meant as compliments. Brick wall in the figurative sense of "impenetrable barrier" is from 1886. Brick-and-mortar (adj.) as figurative of "physically real" is from 1865. To do something like a ton of bricks "vigorously" is from 1929 (earlier thousand of bricks, 1836), probably from the notion of how hard such a weight of them falls or hits.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
brick (v.)
"to wall up with bricks," 1640s, from brick (n.). Related: Bricked; bricking.
Related entries & more 
gold-brick (n.)
"gold in the form of a brick," 1853, from gold (adj.) + brick (n.). Meaning "shirker" is from 1914, World War I armed forces slang, from earlier verb meaning "to swindle, cheat" (1902) from the old con game of selling spurious "gold" bricks (attested by 1881).
Related entries & more 
brickyard (n.)
also brick-yard, "open place where bricks are made," 1807, from brick (n.) + yard (n.1).
Related entries & more 
brickwork (n.)
"building work done in brick," 1570s, from brick (n.) + work (n.).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
brickbat (n.)
mid-16c., piece of brick (half or less) used as a missile, from brick (n.) + bat (n.1) in the sense "a lump, piece." Figurative use, of comments, insults, etc., is from 1640s.
Related entries & more 
briquette (n.)
also briquet, "small brick," 1870, especially "block of compressed coal dust held together by pitch," used for fuel, from French briquette (18c.), diminutive of brique (see brick (n.)).
Related entries & more 
bricklayer (n.)
also brick-layer, "one who builds with bricks," late 15c., from brick (n.) + layer in the original sense. Related: Bricklaying.
Related entries & more 
break (v.)

Old English brecan "to divide solid matter violently into parts or fragments; to injure, violate (a promise, etc.), destroy, curtail; to break into, rush into; to burst forth, spring out; to subdue, tame" (class IV strong verb; past tense bræc, past participle brocen), from Proto-Germanic *brekanan (source also of Old Frisian breka, Dutch breken, Old High German brehhan, German brechen, Gothic brikan), from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."

Closely related to breach (n.), brake (n.1), brick (n.). The old past tense brake is obsolete or archaic; past participle is broken, but shortened form broke is attested from 14c. and was "exceedingly common" [OED] 17c.-18c.

Of bones in Old English. Formerly also of cloth, paper, etc. Meaning "escape by breaking an enclosure" is from late 14c. Intransitive sense "be or become separated into fragments or parts under action of some force" is from late 12c. Meaning "lessen, impair" is from late 15c. Meaning "make a first and partial disclosure" is from early 13c. Meaning "destroy continuity or completeness" in any way is from 1741. Of coins or bills, "to convert to smaller units of currency," by 1882. In reference to the heart from early 13c. (intransitive); to break (someone's) heart is late 14c.

Break bread "share food" (with) is from late 14c. To break ground is from 1670s as "to dig, plow," from 1709 in the figurative sense "begin to execute a plan." To break the ice "overcome the feeling of restraint in a new acquaintanceship" is from c. 1600, in reference to the "coldness" of encounters of strangers. Break wind first attested 1550s. To break (something) out (1890s) probably is an image from dock work, of freeing cargo before unloading it.

The ironic theatrical good luck formula break a leg (by 1948, said to be from at least 1920s) has parallels in German Hals- und Beinbruch "break your neck and leg," and Italian in bocca al lupo. Evidence of a highly superstitious craft (see Macbeth). According to Farmer & Henley, in 17c. the expression was used euphemistically, of a woman, "to have a bastard."

Related entries & more 
brickette (n.)
"small brick" of anything, 1924; see briquette.
Related entries & more