brief

1 of 3

adjective

1
: short in duration, extent, or length
a brief meeting
2
a
: concise
gave a brief description of events
promises to be brief
b
briefness noun

brief

2 of 3

noun

1
a
: an official letter or mandate (see mandate entry 1 sense 1)
especially, Roman Catholicism : a papal letter less formal than a bull
b
: a specific instruction or responsibility
his brief was to strengthen the army
2
a
: a concise article (as in a newspaper)
a news brief
c
law : a concise statement of a client's case made out for the instruction of an attorney usually by a law clerk
3
: an outline of an argument
especially, law : a formal written presentation of an argument that sets forth the main points with supporting precedents and evidence
a legal brief
filed a brief
4
briefs plural [brief entry 1] : short snug pants or underpants
wearing briefs

brief

3 of 3

verb

briefed; briefing; briefs

transitive verb

1
: to make an abstract or abridgment of
brief a report
summarized northeastern Siberian archaeology and has briefed many normally unavailable sources Wendell Oswalt
2
a
: to give final precise instructions to
were briefed before their mission
b
: to coach thoroughly in advance
c
: to give essential information to
The president is being briefed by his advisors.
3
: to discuss (something, such as a military operation) in a briefing
briefed the mission
briefer noun
Phrases
in brief
: in a few words : briefly
today's news in brief

Example Sentences

Adjective The meeting will be brief. The essay is brief but thorough enough. a few brief words of caution Noun Her brief is to manage the company's sales department. a one-page brief of the intelligence report Verb The captain briefed the crew on the new safety procedures. The President has been briefed by his advisers. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
With an unexpected third child, a new partner in James Marsden’s Ben and the lessons from her brief time with Judy, Jen’s in much better shape than when viewers met her in 2019. Mikey O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Nov. 2022 In February 2020, Davidson opened up about their brief time together in a chat with Charlamagne Tha God. Kate Hogan, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2022 His brief time on the throne drove the creation of some of world history’s most important artworks and is considered by many to be the pinnacle of ancient Egypt’s culture. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 5 Nov. 2022 Their solution for a brief time was to hide their locs under a wig. Breanna Bell, Variety, 4 Nov. 2022 Gomez reflects fondly on her brief time playing Dawn Schafer on Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved book series. Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 Mac Jones only overlapped with Stephon Gilmore for a brief time, but the Patriots quarterback revealed Wednesday that Gilmore left a big impression on him. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, 2 Nov. 2022 In his brief time at Auburn, Davis recruited Calzada out of the transfer portal to challenge Finley for the starting job. al, 1 Nov. 2022 For a brief time, the Iranian Constitutional Revolution became the most successful anti-imperialist struggle in the world, drawing the attention of the international press. Reza Aslan, Time, 8 Oct. 2022
Noun
In a brief filed in the Harvard case earlier this year, the University of California noted some of its efforts to promote diversity in the wake of a ballot initiative approved in 1996 that banned the use of race in admissions at public universities. John Fritze, USA TODAY, 2 Nov. 2022 Whitmer's team appeared to address this issue to some degree in a legal brief filed last week. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 23 May 2022 In its own brief, the Justice Department noted that lawmakers passed the ICWA to halt an existential threat to the tribes’ future. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 9 Nov. 2022 In the latest inspection, the veterans home at Union Grove was cited for not doing a thorough investigation of an August incident in which a resident accused a nursing aide of abusing him while changing his brief. Sarah Volpenhein, Journal Sentinel, 2 Nov. 2022 His brief is to develop original ideas for returnable, popular factual series that meet demand in the market. Liza Foreman, Variety, 16 Oct. 2022 Last month, government attorneys requested and were granted an extension by the appeals court to file their brief outlining their appeal — pushing back the deadline from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11, just days after the fifth anniversary of the attack. Holly Bailey, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2022 In its court brief, the administration says it’s not taking sides in the case. The Indianapolis Star, 6 Oct. 2022 In its brief, which opened the summary of its argument with the question quoted above, the publication sided with Anthony Novak, an Ohio man who was jailed and prosecuted by local police over a Facebook page that parodied their department. Nicole Hemmer, CNN, 6 Oct. 2022
Verb
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media about the ongoing investigation. Qassim Abdul-zahra, ajc, 17 Nov. 2022 His administration will work to make the transition as smooth as possible, with cabinet secretaries available to brief the incoming team. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 9 Nov. 2022 The Times’ investigation prompted the university’s president and general counsel to brief the board’s executive committee in a phone call. Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct. 2022 Back home by the end of January, on his first morning in Washington RFK went directly to the Oval Office to brief the president for nearly two hours. Andrew Meier, Time, 14 Oct. 2022 The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to brief the press. Ellen Francis, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2022 According to court filings, Dearie has asked the two sides to brief him on some of the legal aspects of the case. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 20 Sep. 2022 Consider asking your team to brief you on only the highest-impact projects. Laura Silver, Forbes, 18 Aug. 2022 Just before the official filing, Levin called Bond to brief him on the Relf case. New York Times, 8 June 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English bref, breve, from Anglo-French bref, brief, from Latin brevis; akin to Old High German murg short, Greek brachys

Noun

Middle English bref, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin brevis, from Late Latin, summary, from Latin brevis brief entry 1

Verb

verbal derivative of brief entry 2

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of brief was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near brief

Cite this Entry

“Brief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brief. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

brief 1 of 3

adjective

: not very long : short
briefly adverb
briefness noun

brief

2 of 3

noun

1
: a brief statement of the case a lawyer will present in court
2
plural : short snug underpants

brief

3 of 3

verb

: to give information or instructions to

Legal Definition

brief 1 of 2

noun

1
: a concise statement of a client's case written for the instruction of an attorney usually by a law clerk

called also memorandum

2
: a formal written presentation of an argument that sets forth the main points with supporting precedents and evidence

Note: Briefs are filed either by a party or an amicus curiae with a court usually regarding a specific motion (as for summary judgment) or point of law.

brief

2 of 2

transitive verb

: to write a brief concerning (a motion or question of law)

History and Etymology for brief

Noun

Old French bref, brief letter, writ indicating legal proceedings, from Late Latin brevis, breve short document, summary, from Latin brevis, adjective, short

More from Merriam-Webster on brief

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