[ breef ]
See synonyms for: briefbriefedbrieferbriefing on

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.

  1. abrupt or curt.

  2. scanty: a brief bathing suit.

  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.

  1. Law.

    • a writ summoning one to answer to any action.

    • a memorandum of points of fact or of law for use in conducting a case.

    • a written argument submitted to a court.

    • (in England) the material relevant to a case, delivered by a solicitor to the barrister who tries the case.

  2. an outline, summary, or synopsis, as of a book.

  3. briefs, (used with a plural verb) close-fitting, legless underpants with an elastic waistband.

  4. 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.

  5. British Theater. a free ticket; pass.

  6. Obsolete. a letter.

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.

  1. Law. to retain as advocate in a suit.

Idioms about brief

  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.

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.

Other words for brief

Other words from brief

  • briefer, noun
  • briefness, noun
  • un·brief, adjective
  • un·brief·ly, adverb
  • un·brief·ness, noun
  • un·briefed, adjective

Words Nearby brief Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use brief in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for brief


/ (briːf) /

  1. short in duration: a brief holiday

  2. short in length or extent; scanty: a brief bikini

  1. abrupt in manner; brusque: the professor was brief with me this morning

  2. terse or concise; containing few words: he made a brief statement

  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

  1. RC Church a letter issuing from the Roman court written in modern characters, as contrasted with a papal bull; papal brief

  2. short for briefing

  3. a paper outlining the arguments and information on one side of a debate

  4. British slang a lawyer, esp a barrister

  5. hold a brief for to argue for; champion

  6. in brief in short; to sum up

  1. to prepare or instruct by giving a summary of relevant facts

  2. to make a summary or synopsis of

  1. English law

    • to instruct (a barrister) by brief

    • to retain (a barrister) as counsel

  2. (intr foll by against) to supply potentially damaging or negative information regarding somone, as to the media, a politician, etc: See also briefs

Origin of brief

C14: from Old French bref, from Latin brevis; related to Greek brakhus

Derived forms of brief

  • briefly, adverb
  • briefness, noun

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.