Brick and Mortar or Brick and Morter – What’s the Difference?

In the olden days, many people shopped at the same general store for all of their needs. If you didn’t know how to make something yourself, and didn’t know anyone else who did either, you had better hope that you could find it at your town’s store.

Today, our options are not so limited. With the advent of the Internet, most businesses don’t even need a physical location anymore to sell goods or services. Physical stores, also called brick-and-mortar stores, are falling out of fashion.

Still, we need a way to describe such real-world storefronts. Should it be brick and mortar or brick and morter?

What is the Difference Between Brick and Mortar and Brick and Morter?

In this article, I’ll compare brick and mortar vs. brick and morter. I will use each one in at least one example sentence.

Plus, I will give you a useful memory tool that will help you choose between these expressions.

When to Use Brick and Mortar

Brick and mortar versus brick and morter meaningWhat does brick and mortar mean? Brick and mortar is an expression. It is often used as an adjective to describe a business that has a physical storefront, as opposed to an online-only business. When used in this sense, it should be hyphenated to form brick-and-mortar.

Here are a few examples,

  • The music shop closed its brick-and-mortar showroom, but continued to sell instruments online.
  • Some popular online banks have entertained the idea of opening brick-and-mortar branches.
  • It will be a long time before brick-and-mortar barbershops are replaced by digital competition.
  • Several weeks earlier, many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Macy’s, Target, JCPenney and Barnes & Noble, reported bleak results that they chalked up to waning mall foot traffic and other issues. –The Washington Post

Of course, brick and mortar can also describe discrete building materials, like in this sentence,

  • The purchasing department has not ordered the brick and mortar for the next job yet.

When used in this sense, brick and mortar should not be hyphenated.

Common Spelling Errors

As with many English words and phrases, the phrase brick and mortar has a few common spelling errors that should be universally avoided. Here are the two most common.

Brick and Morter

Definition of brick and morter definition and definition of Brick and mortar definitionMorter is not a word in English. Given this fact, you should never use brick and morter. It is a common spelling error. Use brick and mortar instead.

Brick and Motor

Brick and motor is also not an acceptable substitute for this expression, but there are conceivable situations where you might see it in a sentence. If you possessed a brick and, separately, a motor, and they were both part of the same discussion, perhaps you might consider using this phrase.

Here is one possible example,

  • “Get your brick and motor out of the front yard; you’re making us look like rednecks,” Thelma told her husband.

Brick and motor can thus be used similarly to the non-adjective sense of brick and mortar.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define brick and morter and define Brick and mortarHere is a helpful trick to remember brick and morter vs. brick and mortar.

Only one of these variants is an expression that describes a physical business location, and it is brick-and-mortar.

Since mortar contains the letter A, you can think of the A on the sign of an Albertson’s store to help you remember the correct way to spell this phrase.


Is it brick and mortar or brick and morter? Brickand-mortar is an expression that describes a business with a physical location. Grammatically, it forms an adjective phrase.

  • Brick and mortar is the correct spelling.
  • Neither brick and morter or brick and motor are suitable substitutes.

The word mortar is spelled with an A, like Albertson’s the grocery store, so you can think of the large blue A in that company’s logo to help you remember which variant to use.

In summary, the only correct version of this phrase is brick-and-mortar. If you need any future help determining brick and morter or brick and mortar, you can revisit this page.