Military. a short, factual oral summary of the details of a current or projected military operation given to the participants or observers.
any set of concise instructions or a summary of events.

Origin of briefing

First recorded in 1860–65; brief + -ing1



adjective, brief·er, brief·est.

lasting or taking a short time; of short duration: a brief walk; a brief stay in the country.
using few words; concise; succinct: a brief report on weather conditions.
abrupt or curt.
scanty: a brief bathing suit.


a short and concise statement or written item.
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. 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.
an outline, summary, or synopsis, as of a book.
briefs, (used with a plural verb) close-fitting, legless underpants with an elastic waistband.
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.
British Theater. a free ticket; pass.
Obsolete. a letter.

verb (used with object)

to make an abstract or summary of.
to instruct by a brief or briefing: They brief all the agents before assigning them.
Law. to retain as advocate in a suit.

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 for brief

1. short-lived, fleeting, transitory, ephemeral, transient. See short. 2. terse, compact, pithy, condensed. 5. outline, précis, epitome, abstract. See summary. 14. summarize, outline. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for briefing

Contemporary Examples of briefing

Historical Examples of briefing

  • The best I could do was stop around the corner and give Ned a briefing.

    Arm of the Law

    Harry Harrison

  • The big clock on the back wall of the briefing shack said three fifty-five.

    The Hills of Home

    Alfred Coppel

  • Whatever damage you say I have done can be corrected with a ten-minute briefing.

    Ten From Infinity

    Paul W. Fairman

  • "Malinkoff is too deep in something to come to the briefing," Wong said.

    Eight Keys to Eden

    Mark Irvin Clifton

  • The general took Phil's arm and they walked to the briefing room.


    Stanley Gimble

British Dictionary definitions for briefing



a meeting at which detailed information or instructions are given, as for military operations, etc
the facts presented during such a meeting



short in durationa brief holiday
short in length or extent; scantya brief bikini
abrupt in manner; brusquethe professor was brief with me this morning
terse or concise; containing few wordshe made a brief statement


a condensed or short statement or written synopsis; abstract
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
RC Church a letter issuing from the Roman court written in modern characters, as contrasted with a papal bull; papal brief
short for briefing
a paper outlining the arguments and information on one side of a debate
British slang a lawyer, esp a barrister
hold a brief for to argue for; champion
in brief in short; to sum up

verb (tr)

to prepare or instruct by giving a summary of relevant facts
to make a summary or synopsis of
English law
  1. to instruct (a barrister) by brief
  2. to retain (a barrister) as counsel
(intr foll by against) to supply potentially damaging or negative information regarding somone, as to the media, a politician, etcSee also briefs
Derived Formsbriefly, 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

Word Origin and History for briefing

"fact or situation of giving preliminary instructions," 1910 (but popularized by World War II pre-flight conferences), verbal noun from brief (v.).



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").



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).



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with briefing


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.