Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

brief

[breef]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
adjective, brief·er, brief·est.
  1. lasting or taking a short time; of short duration: a brief walk; a brief stay in the country.
  2. using few words; concise; succinct: a brief report on weather conditions.
  3. abrupt or curt.
  4. scanty: a brief bathing suit.
Show More
noun
  1. a short and concise statement or written item.
  2. an outline, the form of which is determined by set rules, of all the possible arguments and information on one side of a controversy: a debater's brief.
  3. Law.
    1. a writ summoning one to answer to any action.
    2. a memorandum of points of fact or of law for use in conducting a case.
    3. a written argument submitted to a court.
    4. (in England) the material relevant to a case, delivered by a solicitor to the barrister who tries the case.
  4. an outline, summary, or synopsis, as of a book.
  5. briefs, (used with a plural verb) close-fitting, legless underpants with an elastic waistband.
  6. a briefing.
  7. Roman Catholic Church. a papal letter less formal than a bull, sealed with the pope's signet ring or stamped with the device borne on this ring.
  8. British Theater. a free ticket; pass.
  9. Obsolete. a letter.
Show More
verb (used with object)
  1. to make an abstract or summary of.
  2. to instruct by a brief or briefing: They brief all the agents before assigning them.
  3. Law. to retain as advocate in a suit.
Show More
Idioms
  1. hold a brief for, to support or defend by argument; endorse.
  2. in brief, in a few words; in short: The supervisor outlined in brief the duties of the new assistant.
Show More

Origin of brief

1250–1300; Middle English bref < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin brevis short; see breve
Related formsbrief·er, nounbrief·ness, nounun·brief, adjectiveun·brief·ly, adverbun·brief·ness, nounun·briefed, adjective

Synonyms

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. short-lived, fleeting, transitory, ephemeral, transient. See short. 2. terse, compact, pithy, condensed. 5. outline, précis, epitome, abstract. See summary. 14. summarize, outline.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for brief

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for brief

brief

adjective
  1. short in durationa brief holiday
  2. short in length or extent; scantya brief bikini
  3. abrupt in manner; brusquethe professor was brief with me this morning
  4. terse or concise; containing few wordshe made a brief statement
Show More
noun
  1. a condensed or short statement or written synopsis; abstract
  2. law a document containing all the facts and points of law of a case by which a solicitor instructs a barrister to represent a client
  3. RC Church a letter issuing from the Roman court written in modern characters, as contrasted with a papal bull; papal brief
  4. short for briefing
  5. a paper outlining the arguments and information on one side of a debate
  6. British slang a lawyer, esp a barrister
  7. hold a brief for to argue for; champion
  8. in brief in short; to sum up
Show More
verb (tr)
  1. to prepare or instruct by giving a summary of relevant facts
  2. to make a summary or synopsis of
  3. English law
    1. to instruct (a barrister) by brief
    2. to retain (a barrister) as counsel
  4. (intr foll by against) to supply potentially damaging or negative information regarding somone, as to the media, a politician, etcSee also briefs
Show More
Derived Formsbriefly, adverbbriefness, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Old French bref, from Latin brevis; related to Greek brakhus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for brief

adj.

late 13c., from Latin brevis (adj.) "short, low, little, shallow," from PIE *mregh-wi-, from root *mregh-u- "short" (cf. Greek brakhys "short," Old Church Slavonic bruzeja "shallow places, shoals," Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten").

Show More

n.

from Latin breve (genitive brevis), noun derivative of adjective brevis (see brief (adj.)) which came to mean "letter, summary," specifically a letter of the pope (less ample and solemn than a bull), and thus came to mean "letter of authority," which yielded the modern, legal sense of "summary of the facts of a case" (1630s).

Show More

v.

"to give instructions or information to," 1866; originally "to instruct by a brief" (1862), from brief (n.). Related: Briefed; briefing.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with brief

brief

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.