brev·​i·​ty | \ ˈbre-və-tē How to pronounce brevity (audio) \
plural brevities

Definition of brevity

: shortness of duration especially : shortness or conciseness of expression

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Synonyms & Antonyms for brevity



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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 The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Dennis Normile, Science | AAAS, "Mystery virus found in Wuhan resembles bat viruses but not SARS, Chinese scientist says," 10 Jan. 2020 In bold and italics are emails, or portions of emails, from readers edited only for clarity or brevity. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: My turnips hot-take, Alterique Gilbert’s struggles, Dan Hurley’s response and more from my email inbox," 28 Nov. 2019 Twitter, in its imposed brevity, seems to affirm the aphorism’s original meaning: be intelligently succinct! Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Art of Aphorism," 15 July 2019 The brevity of conversations, the number of them—it’s not my sweet spot. Laura Stevens, WSJ, "Jeff Bezos’ Journey From Private Family Man to Tabloid Sensation," 10 Feb. 2019 The handful of action scenes, for all their mortal dangers, come and go with an expository brevity and an elusive, abstracted physicality to match. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Kitchen,” Reviewed: An Engrossing Mob-Wife Drama That’s Relegated to a Table Read," 8 Aug. 2019 Editor's note: This interview has been condensed for clarity and brevity. Teen Vogue, "Meet Femail Forever, the Brand Changing the Fashion Industry via Snail Mail," 10 Sep. 2019 The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King on what Indianapolis gets right about education," 4 June 2019 First one is free, and some questions have been edited for brevity to prevent overcharging. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football mailbag: Fans air grievances about hapless offense," 7 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for brevity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for brevity

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Brevity.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for brevity


How to pronounce brevity (audio)

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 How to pronounce brevity (audio) \

Kids Definition of brevity

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on brevity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for brevity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with brevity

Spanish Central: Translation of brevity

Nglish: Translation of brevity for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of brevity for Arabic Speakers

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).


to express in a more acceptable way

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