: marked by compact precise expression without wasted words
a succinct description
: being girded
: close-fitting
(ˌ)sək-ˈsiŋ(k)t-lē How to pronounce succinct (audio)
(ˌ)sək-ˈsiŋt-nəs How to pronounce succinct (audio)

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A Succinct History of Succinct

The history of succinct might not be short, but it's a cinch to remember. Succinct traces to Latin succinctus ("tightly wrapped, concise"), which comes from the verb cingere ("to gird"), the word that gave us cincture and cinch. In its earliest uses succinct meant "confined" or "girded up," and, as such, it was often used in reference to garments encircled by a band. Eventually, succinct was extended to the realm of insects, where it meant "supported by a band of silk around the middle" (as in "the succinct pupa of a butterfly"). Later, the word was applied to writings. A "succinct" piece of writing is "compressed" or "compact" and uses as few words as possible.

Choose the Right Synonym for succinct

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

Example Sentences

Other experts are in the business of selling their research. Alan Greenspan made his reputation and career as a partner of Townsend-Greenspan, whose clients were a who's who of old Wall Street. Successful research firms can command substantial fees, and buyers demand clear, succinct and unequivocal analysis and predictions. Zachary Karabell, Newsweek, 9 Mar. 2009 As Esther Benbassa recounts in her dry but impressively succinct and informative history, they arrived in the Roman province of Gaul in the first centuries of the common era, and soon found themselves trod underfoot by the ascendant Christian church. David A. Bell, New Republic, 28 Feb. 2000 In his first work of popular science, English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking proves himself to be a master of vivid clarity. His title, " A Brief History of Time," is understated even by British standards; in 198 pages Hawking manages no less than a succinct history of cosmology, a concise explanation of general relativity and its intersection with quantum mechanics … Richard Rhodes, Chicago Tribune, 27 Mar. 1988 He gave a succinct overview of the expansion project. a pocket guide that provides succinct explanations for rules of grammar and punctuation
Recent Examples on the Web Rob Pelinka, the man in charge of putting the pieces together for the Lakers, was succinct while discussing what the franchise’s focus. Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2023 Vanderbilt also came to his teammate’s defense postgame with a succinct analysis of the no-call. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 4 Dec. 2022 In the city of Folsom, in one of liberal California’s more conservative regions, John Butruce, 66, offered a fairly succinct synopsis of his take on things before casting his ballot. Eric Nagourney, New York Times, 8 Nov. 2022 Rockets coach Stephen Silas provided a succinct summation postgame. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 23 Dec. 2022 Zimmerman has a succinct explanation for why the Harlem Avenue Lounge has flourished for so many years. Myrna Petlicki, Chicago Tribune, 21 Dec. 2022 This year, rather than swing for a big win and miss, work smarter and start with this succinct list for small—but still awesome—gifts that are guaranteed to deliver a big wow. Danny Perez, Popular Mechanics, 19 Dec. 2022 In his pre-show talk, Black Arts MKE board president Cory L. Nettles provided an apt, succinct summary of this production. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 9 Dec. 2022 Our restaurant critic, Bill Addison, works tirelessly for months (all year long, really) to narrow down all the restaurants in Southern California into a succinct list for our readers. Ben Mimscooking Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 11 Dec. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English, from Latin succinctus having one's clothes gathered up by a belt, tightly wrapped, concise, from sub- + cinctus, past participle of cingere to gird — more at cincture

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of succinct was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near succinct

Cite this Entry

“Succinct.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/succinct. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


: marked by short concise expression without wasted words
succinctly adverb
succinctness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on succinct

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