\ ˈtərs How to pronounce terse (audio) \
terser; tersest

Definition of terse

1 : using few words : devoid of superfluity a terse summary also : short, brusque dismissed me with a terse "no"
2 : smoothly elegant : polished

Other Words from terse

tersely adverb
terseness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for terse

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 terse in a Sentence

Everything about him is tidy, from his terse wit to the flecks of gray hair that fall in precise iterations around the edges of his scalp. — Devin Gordon, Newsweek, 29 July 2002 … Johnston stays bolted to the wheelhouse floor, wrestling the helm and jotting down notes in the ship log. His entries are terse, bullet descriptions of the unending chaos outside. — Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm, 1997 This vicious cycle was captured succinctly in Gandhi's terse warning that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. — David McCabe, Commonweal, 11 Apr. 1997 She accepts the caller's terse expression of sympathy and duly expresses in return her appreciation for that unenviable bit of message-bearing. — John Barth, Harper's, January 1994 She gave me a few terse instructions and promptly left the room. could tell from his terse replies to my questions that he was in no mood to talk See More
Recent Examples on the Web The information was terse, only that Giffords had been shot. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 15 Mar. 2022 The dialogue is terse, aphoristic, cutting, and delivered frankly, plainly, with little artifice or mannerism. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 14 July 2021 His exchanges with Rob are terse to the point of being hostile. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 15 July 2021 As a result, communication with his team was terse and brief. Ashton Shanks, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Answers are terse, short, and hugely telling stories unto themselves. Brian Boone, Vulture, 7 Apr. 2021 The protagonist is terse, isolated, with a fetish for self-sabotage that ranges from recreational to all-consuming. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2020 At the same time, however, Orlando attorney John Morgan, a major Democratic donor who had been vigorously touting Demings — and criticizing Harris — had a terse reaction to the Harris pick. Steven Lemongello, orlandosentinel.com, 11 Aug. 2020 Kraftwerk, ‘Ruckzuck’ (1970) Before Kraftwerk tightened its songs into terse pop structures, its music grew out of the hypnotic late-1960s German rock movement known as kosmische. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 7 May 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of terse

1601, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for terse

Latin tersus clean, neat, from past participle of tergēre to wipe off

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Last Updated

28 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Terse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terse. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for terse


\ ˈtərs How to pronounce terse (audio) \
terser; tersest

Kids Definition of terse

: being brief and to the point a terse statement

Other Words from terse

tersely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on terse

Nglish: Translation of terse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terse for Arabic Speakers


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