[bree-vee-er-ee, brev-ee-]

noun, plural bre·vi·ar·ies.

Roman Catholic Church. a book containing all the daily psalms, hymns, prayers, lessons, etc., necessary for reciting the office.
a book of daily prayers and readings in some other churches.

Origin of breviary

First recorded in 1540–50, breviary is from the Latin word breviārium an abridgment. See brevi-, -ary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for breviary

Historical Examples of breviary

  • Perhaps you think an old priest has no eyes for anything but his breviary, eh?

  • They could have conquered them only by the bible; they fought them only with the breviary.

  • It was the Breviary which Hurrell had had with him at Barbadoes.

    Apologia Pro Vita Sua

    John Henry Cardinal Newman

  • On his arrival, he found the Pre Longuemare in the garret reading his breviary.

    The Gods are Athirst

    Anatole France

  • Do they become disgusted with the Missal and Breviary by this daily familiarity?

British Dictionary definitions for breviary


noun plural -ries

RC Church a book of psalms, hymns, prayers, etc, to be recited daily by clerics in major orders and certain members of religious orders as part of the divine office
a similar book in the Orthodox Church

Word Origin for breviary

C16: from Latin breviārium an abridged version, from breviāre to shorten, from brevis short
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 breviary

1540s, "brief statement;" sense of "short prayer book used by Catholic priests" is from 1610s, from Latin breviarium "summary," noun use of neuter of adjective breviarius "abridged," from breviare "to shorten, abbreviate," from brevis "short" (see brief (adj.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper