[ breef ]
/ brif /
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See synonyms for: brief / briefed / briefer / briefing on Thesaurus.com

adjective, brief·er, brief·est.
verb (used with object)
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Idioms about brief

    hold a brief for, to support or defend by argument; endorse.
    in brief, in a few words; in short: The supervisor outlined in brief the duties of the new assistant.

Origin of brief

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English bref, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Latin brevis “short”; see breve

synonym study for brief

1. See short. 5. See summary.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does brief mean?

Brief is most commonly used as an adjective to mean lasting a short amount of time.

As an adjective, it can also mean concise or said in a few words, as in Keep your introduction brief and get right to the point. 

Less commonly, brief can describe an action or interaction as abrupt or too short, often in a rude way, as in Please don’t be so brief with customers. 

The adverb form of the adjective brief is briefly, which most commonly means for a short amount of time or concisely.

As a noun, the word brief commonly means a short written item. In a legal context, a brief is a short legal document, such as a written argument submitted to a court or some other short statement of facts for use in a legal case.

Brief can also be used as a verb meaning to provide a short explanation or summary of something to someone, as in Each cabinet member will brief the president on the most important issues. The noun briefing refers to a meeting at which someone is briefed in this way.

Example: The meeting was very brief—it lasted only a few minutes.

Where does brief come from?

The first records of the word brief come from the 1200s. It ultimately comes from the Latin brevis, meaning “short.”

Whether it’s used as an adjective, a noun, or a verb, the word brief always involves things that are short in length or duration. When you tell someone to “keep it brief,” you’re asking them to not take too long—often because there’s not a lot of time. But there’s no set amount of time that makes something brief—it just means appropriately short for the situation. When someone says “I’ll be brief” before speaking, they may have a different idea of what brief means than you do.

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What are some other forms related to brief?

  • briefly (adverb)
  • briefness (noun)
  • briefer (noun)

What are some synonyms for brief?

What are some words that share a root or word element with brief

What are some words that often get used in discussing brief?

How is brief used in real life?

Brief is a very common word and one of the briefest ways to say, “lasting a short amount of time.”



Try using brief!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of brief?

A. short
B. concise
C. succinct
D. lengthy

How to use brief in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for brief

/ (briːf) /

verb (tr)

Derived forms of brief

briefly, adverbbriefness, noun

Word Origin for brief

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with brief


see hold no brief for; in brief.

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