com·​pen·​di·​ous kəm-ˈpen-dē-əs How to pronounce compendious (audio)
: marked by brief expression of a comprehensive matter : concise and comprehensive
a compendious summary
also : comprehensive
her compendious knowledge of the subject
compendiously adverb
compendiousness noun

Did you know?

Compendious comes from Latin compendium, meaning "saving," "shortcut," and, in its most literal sense, "that which is weighed together." Compendium has its source in the Latin verb compendere, meaning "to weigh together."

Choose the Right Synonym for compendious

concise, terse, succinct, laconic, summary, pithy, compendious mean very brief in statement or expression.

concise suggests the removal of all that is superfluous or elaborative.

a concise description

terse implies pointed conciseness.

a terse reply

succinct implies the greatest possible compression.

a succinct letter of resignation

laconic implies brevity to the point of seeming rude, indifferent, or mysterious.

an aloof and laconic stranger

summary suggests the statement of main points with no elaboration or explanation.

a summary listing of the year's main events

pithy adds to succinct or terse the implication of richness of meaning or substance.

a comedy sharpened by pithy one-liners

compendious applies to what is at once full in scope and brief and concise in treatment.

a compendious dictionary

Examples of compendious in a Sentence

her compendious knowledge of the monarch butterfly a compendious summary of the referendum before the voters
Recent Examples on the Web The curious thing about this compendious, scrupulously researched biography, so rich in basketball and cultural lore, is that the best parts are not about basketball at all. Thomas Beller, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2023 Although employment has begun to recover, the need to create jobs has prompted several Indian states to suspend many of the country’s compendious labour regulations. The Economist, 27 June 2020 Another documents the founding in 1974 — by Joan Nestle, Deborah Edel, Sahli Cavallaro, Pamela Olin and Julia Stanley — of a compendious and still-growing register of lesbian culture called the Herstory Archives. Julianne McShane, New York Times, 29 Aug. 2019 Nonetheless, astronomers and astrophysicists came together to write a single compendious paper about the event. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, 16 Oct. 2017 Each event centered on performances of a supreme, compendious Bach masterpiece. James R. Oestreich, New York Times, 25 Apr. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'compendious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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


Dictionary Entries Near compendious

Cite this Entry

“Compendious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


com·​pen·​di·​ous kəm-ˈpen-dē-əs How to pronounce compendious (audio)
: marked by a brief presentation of a broad subject : concise
a compendious book
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