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sum·​ma·​ry ˈsə-mə-rē How to pronounce summary (audio)
 also  ˈsəm-rē,
 or  -ˌmer-ē
: comprehensive
especially : covering the main points succinctly
: done without delay or formality : quickly executed
a summary dismissal
: of, relating to, or using a summary proceeding
a summary trial
summarily adverb


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sum·​ma·​ry ˈsə-mə-rē How to pronounce summary (audio)
 also  ˈsəm-rē
plural summaries
: an abstract, abridgment, or compendium especially of a preceding discourse
Choose the Right Synonym for summary

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 summary in a Sentence

Adjective a summary account of the accident obviously a one-volume encyclopedia can offer only a very summary account of the American Civil War Noun He concluded the report with a brief summary. They gave a summary of their progress in building the bridge.
Recent Examples on the Web
In McCarthy’s Central Valley congressional district, the most Republican in the Golden State, many residents fumed about the summary political execution of California’s first Republican speaker of the House. Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times, 4 Oct. 2023 By the occupying Nazis' decree, any assistance to Jews was punished with summary execution. Monika Scislowska,, 10 Sep. 2023 April 3 — Ukraine discovers Russian atrocities in Bucha Russia's hasty retreat from Kyiv's suburbs revealed evidence of summary executions, beheadings, torture, rape, and other atrocities. Peter Weber, The Week, 25 Aug. 2023 Within Ukraine, those consequences would have been awful—show trials, summary executions, and all the mayhem visited upon the areas that Russia did manage to occupy. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 14 Feb. 2023 The website Transfermarkt provides summary valuation of league squads, and currently values MLS players at $1.3 billion, compared with $11.3 billion for the English Premier League, $5.1 billion for La Liga, $4.9 billion for Serie A and $4.6 billion for the Bundesliga. Stefan Szymanski, Fortune, 7 June 2023 In expressing a summary view of the application process, Sarah Markhovsky, director of admissions at Greenhill School, says the most important thing for parents to know is that most private schools generally engage in a holistic view of every application. Dallas News, 2 Oct. 2020 The campaign's summary notes how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director, Robert Redfield, contacted his counterpart in China and offered to send U.S. experts to aid its investigation on Jan. 3. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, 23 Apr. 2020 Local health departments also can access summary disease reports. Rachel Dissell, cleveland, 6 Apr. 2020
The state's summary of the current project didn't go into detail about the reason for the 2024 work, but state officials previously did during a similar project in 2018. Journal Sentinel, 1 Apr. 2024 Here are summaries of their comments: Investment firm Rithm Capital. Peter Cohan, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 That full recipe page has a summary highlighting allergens and other dietary tags. PCMAG, 27 Mar. 2024 Workers won higher pay, increased employer contributions to pensions, and fair workload guarantees among other provisions of a contract that received 98% approval, Unite Here Local 11 said in a summary of highlights of the pact which runs until Jan. 15, 2028. John Antczak, Fortune, 26 Mar. 2024 In its executive summary, Concentric Energy Advisors, a firm based in Marlborough, Mass., valued the cost of purchasing SDG&E’s physical assets — including substations, transformers and other equipment — at $3.95 billion to $4.37 billion. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Mar. 2024 Eyewitnesses detailed a range of coercive methods employed by the RSF to compel individuals to join their ranks, including intimidation, torture, summary execution and the withholding of food and medical aid. Pallabi Munsi, CNN, 19 Mar. 2024 Here is a summary of key events in the rise of Novo Nordisk. Bruce Gil, Quartz, 17 Mar. 2024 Its summary and conclusion imply that Ceasefire was continuously watered down starting in 2016 — but even Ersie Joyner III, a member of the California Partnership for Safe Communities team that compiled the audit, disagrees with that. Shomik Mukherjee, The Mercury News, 11 Mar. 2024

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

Word History



Middle English, from Medieval Latin summarius, from Latin summa sum

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1509, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near summary

Cite this Entry

“Summary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
sum·​ma·​ry ˈsəm-ə-rē How to pronounce summary (audio)
: expressing or covering the main points briefly : concise
a summary account
: done without delay or formality : quickly carried out
a summary dismissal


2 of 2 noun
plural summaries
: a short statement of the main points (as in a book or report)

Legal Definition


sum·​ma·​ry ˈsə-mə-rē How to pronounce summary (audio)
: done immediately, concisely, and without usual formal procedures
especially : used in or done by summary proceeding compare plenary
summarily adverb

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