la·​con·​ic lə-ˈkä-nik How to pronounce laconic (audio)
: using or involving the use of a minimum of words : concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious
laconically adverb

Did you know?

We’ll keep it brief. Laconia was an ancient country in southern Greece. Its capital city was Sparta, and the Spartans were famous for their terseness of speech. Laconic comes to us by way of Latin from Greek Lakōnikos, meaning “native of Laconia.” In current use, laconic means “terse” or “concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious,” and thus recalls the Spartans’ taciturnity.

Choose the Right Synonym for laconic

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 laconic in a Sentence

We would rather have a smiling, shape-shifting Democrat we don't trust than a frowning, laconic Republican we trust more. Maureen Dowd, New York Times, 10 Oct. 1996
The closest anyone comes to announcing his destination is a laconic "Guess I'll head on in." Richard Rhodes, The Inland Ground, 1991
… towards the father—laconic, authoritarian, remote, an immigrant who'd trained in Galicia to be a rabbi but worked in America in a hat factory—their feelings were more confused. Philip Roth, Granta 24, Summer 1988
He had a reputation for being laconic. the sportscaster's color commentary tends to be laconic but very much to the point
Recent Examples on the Web And what did the laconic former catcher say if the ball clanged off a catcher’s mitt? Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Oct. 2023 A lot of people loved Angus Cloud, the star of Euphoria who abruptly died today at the age of 25, for his voice — that syrupy laconic drawl that sounded like a podcast at .5x speed. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 31 July 2023 The joint is run by Billy (Hugo Weaving), whose every word is a shout, and his laconic partner, Carol (Ursula Yovich), who repeatedly reminds him not to drink and to pay the girls as well as the long-suffering vegetable vendor Tommy (Baykali Ganambarr). Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Sep. 2023 Romanian art-house favorite Radu Jude won the Special Jury Prize in Locarno for his latest, laconic effort, Do Not Expect Too Much From the End of the World. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Aug. 2023 With his laconic style and gift for dry humor, a toothy smile and ironic glint in his eyes, Olyphant has the presence of an A-list Western star, something of John Wayne, James Stewart or, especially, Joel McCrea, but pitched to the long-form intimacy of the small screen. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 17 July 2023 But as secondary lead he’s reduced to being either laconic or heroic. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Apr. 2023 Foster, on the other hand, proved to be a laconic guy who typically keeps his feelings in check. Mary Colurso |, al, 26 Jan. 2023 Wilson also has a way of making these ego monsters seem harmless and sympathetic, thanks to a singularly laconic, deadpan delivery. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 5 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin laconicus Spartan, from Greek lakōnikos; from the Spartan reputation for terseness of speech

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of laconic was in 1589


Dictionary Entries Near laconic

Cite this Entry

“Laconic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


la·​con·​ic lə-ˈkän-ik How to pronounce laconic (audio)
: using few words : terse
a laconic reply
laconically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on laconic

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