brev·​i·​ty ˈbre-və-tē How to pronounce brevity (audio)
plural brevities
: shortness of duration
especially : shortness or conciseness of expression

Example Sentences

Mike Espy resigned under pressure as Secretary of Agriculture yesterday at a news conference remarkable for its brevity and general absence of whining. New York Times, 4 Oct. 1994 Lincoln was able to achieve the loftiness, ideality, and brevity of the Gettysburg Address because he had spent a good part of the 1850s repeatedly relating all the most sensitive issues of the day to the Declaration's supreme principle. Garry Wills, Lincoln At Gettysburg, 1992 The book's brevity is its major defect. Admittedly, readers of military history have been smothered by portentous tomes of a thousand pages or more. But 365 pages are too few to tell the Normandy story. Drew Middleton, New York Times Book Review, 15 Aug. 1982 "Maudie, I'm sure I don't know what you mean," said Mrs. Merriweather. "I'm sure you do," Miss Maudie said shortly. She said no more. When Miss Maudie was angry, her brevity was icy. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960 The book's major flaw is its brevity. the best quality a graduation speech can have is brevity See More
Recent Examples on the Web Here’s the full conversation, lightly edited for brevity and clarity. Usha Lee Mcfarling, STAT, 31 Oct. 2022 This interview has been edited for content, brevity and clarity. Claire Rafford, The Indianapolis Star, 20 Oct. 2022 That Reid died just weeks later is a reminder of life’s brevity and fragility. Steven Litt, cleveland, 2 Oct. 2022 White was a journalist, and The Elements of Style preaches journalistic brevity above all else. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 26 Sep. 2022 Readers may want brevity, but the times call for nuance. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the scale and brevity of the movie is a seamless effort, boasting noteworthy performances, along with an impressive team of artisans, including composer Terence Blanchard and cinematographer Polly Morgan. Clayton Davis, Variety, 19 Sep. 2022 His fiction favored brevity, but Harrison’s nonfiction is as expansive and undisciplined as the writer’s many pursuits. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2022 Odds are that none of them — even the ones with the preferred combination of brevity, relevance and catchiness — will stick at first. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'brevity.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Latin brevitas, from brevis — see breve

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brevity was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near brevity

Cite this Entry

“Brevity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



brev·​i·​ty ˈbrev-ət-ē How to pronounce brevity (audio)
: the condition of being brief

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