noun, plural sum·ma·ries.

a comprehensive and usually brief abstract, recapitulation, or compendium of previously stated facts or statements.


brief and comprehensive; concise.
direct and prompt; unceremoniously fast: to treat someone with summary dispatch.
(of legal proceedings, jurisdiction, etc.) conducted without, or exempt from, the various steps and delays of a formal trial.

Origin of summary

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin summārium, equivalent to summ(a) sum + -ārium -ary
Related formssum·mar·i·ness [suh-mair-i-nis] /səˈmɛər ɪ nɪs/, noun

Synonyms for summary

1. outline, précis. Summary, brief, digest, synopsis are terms for a short version of a longer work. A summary is a brief statement or restatement of main points, especially as a conclusion to a work: a summary of a chapter. A brief is a detailed outline, by heads and subheads, of a discourse (usually legal) to be completed: a brief for an argument. A digest is an abridgement of an article, book, etc., or an organized arrangement of material under heads and titles: a digest of a popular novel; a digest of Roman law. A synopsis is usually a compressed statement of the plot of a novel, play, etc.: a synopsis of Hamlet. 2. short, condensed, compact, succinct. 3. curt, terse, peremptory. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for summary

Contemporary Examples of summary

Historical Examples of summary

  • They prepared a summary of the tale, and then enlarged the summary.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • He had not reckoned upon being dealt with in this summary fashion.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

  • The summary of a lesson, given by the class, is a test of the effectiveness of instruction.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • Each student should be quizzed on his reading, or should be required to give a summary of it.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • As an example of the differences in yield, a summary of the data for 1911 may be given.

British Dictionary definitions for summary


noun plural -maries

a brief account giving the main points of something

adjective (usually prenominal)

performed arbitrarily and quickly, without formalitya summary execution
(of legal proceedings) short and free from the complexities and delays of a full trial
summary jurisdiction the right a court has to adjudicate immediately upon some matter arising during its proceedings
giving the gist or essence
Derived Formssummarily, adverbsummariness, noun

Word Origin for summary

C15: from Latin summārium, from summa sum 1
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 summary

early 15c., from Medieval Latin summarius "of or pertaining to the sum or substance," from Latin summa "whole, gist" (see sum). Sense of "done promptly" is first found 1713. The noun meaning "a summary statement or account" is first recorded c.1500, from Latin summarium "an epitome, abstract, summary," from summa "totality, gist."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper