brev·i·ty | \ˈbre-və-tē \
plural brevities

Definition of brevity 

: shortness of duration especially : shortness or conciseness of expression

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Synonyms & Antonyms for brevity


briefness, conciseness, shortness



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Examples of brevity in a Sentence

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

First, there’s the cunning brevity of the chapters—a hundred and twenty-nine of them—that makes a long story zip by. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s Concussive Collaboration," 3 June 2018 Meaning, more than ever, short is sweet and brevity is a virtue. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "When it comes to written instructions, short is sweeter than ever," 3 May 2018 The tension was also rooted in the history of the phone companies — which were born out of the telegraph era, when brevity was king. Janelle Nanos,, "Stop answering your phone," 6 Jan. 2018 Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Susannah Hutcheson, USA TODAY, "How I became a journalist for the younger generation: 'Stay Tuned' host Savannah Sellers," 10 July 2018 The answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. Pam Grady,, "Mahour Jabbari plays the title character in Sadaf Foroughi’s drama ‘Ava’," 5 July 2018 The following excerpts have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Anthony Bourdain dishes on Trump, Detroit, terrible food in 2016," 8 June 2018 This piece of financial acumen, imparted by a trader to a colleague, is hard to beat for brevity. The Economist, "Even stockmarket bulls are more cautious than at the start of the year," 12 July 2018 Note: his email has been edited for clarity and brevity. Dana Mcmahan, The Courier-Journal, "Dear Dana: Our How-to Airbnb host answers burning reader questions," 5 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of brevity

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brevity

Latin brevitas, from brevis — see breve

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Statistics for brevity

Last Updated

24 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for brevity

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

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More Definitions for brevity



English Language Learners Definition of brevity

: the use of few words to say something

: the quality or fact of lasting only for a short period of time


brev·i·ty | \ˈbre-və-tē \

Kids Definition of brevity

: the condition of being short or brief The concert's brevity disappointed fans.

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Comments on brevity

What made you want to look up brevity? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

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