[breev, brev]
  1. a mark (˘) over a vowel to show that it is short, or to indicate a specific pronunciation, as ŭ in (kŭt) cut.
  2. Law.
    1. an initial writ.
    2. a writ, as one issued by a court of law.
  3. Music.
    1. the longest modern note, equivalent to two semibreves or whole notes.
    2. Also brevis.a note in medieval mensural notation equal to one-half or one-third of a longa.
  4. Prosody. a mark (˘) over a syllable to show that it is not stressed.

Origin of breve

1250–1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin, Latin breve, neuter of brevis short; see brief Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for breve

Historical Examples of breve

British Dictionary definitions for breve


  1. an accent, (˘), placed over a vowel to indicate that it is of short duration or is pronounced in a specified way
  2. music a note, now rarely used, equivalent in time value to two semibreves
  3. RC Church a less common word for brief (def. 7)

Word Origin for breve

C13: from Medieval Latin breve, from Latin brevis short; see brief
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 breve

mid-15c., musical notation indicating two whole notes, from Latin breve (adj.) "short" in space or time (see brief (adj.)). The grammatical curved line placed over a vowel to indicate "shortness" (1540s) is from the same source.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper