Definition of brief in English:

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Pronunciation: /brēf/


1Of short duration: the president made a brief visit to Moscow
More example sentences
  • The brief visit left no time for discovery or inquiry.
  • A brief visit to the temple in the house completes his morning routine before breakfast with the family.
  • It consists of regularly scheduled, brief office visits.
short, flying, fleeting, hasty, hurried, quick, cursory, perfunctory;
temporary, short-lived, momentary, transient
informal quickie
1.1Concise in expression; using few words: introductions were brief and polite
More example sentences
  • A few brief words about the move to Skaggerak in 1902.
  • A brief word, though, about Ms. Young, whom I'd never heard of before.
  • With a brief word from his chauffeur, they were allowed admittance.
concise, succinct, short, pithy, incisive, abridged, condensed, compressed, abbreviated, compact, thumbnail, capsule, potted
formal compendious
1.2(Of a piece of clothing) not covering much of the body; scanty: Alice sported a pair of extremely brief black shorts
More example sentences
  • The room Tripitaka entered contained about 30 women, all dressed in very brief clothing.
  • A cheerful female gorilla garbed in a brief shirt and a halter top stood at a podium.
  • God, how she wished she were wearing something more than her brief underwear.
skimpy, scanty, short;


1A concise statement or summary: their comments were cribbed right from industry briefs
outline, summary, synopsis, précis, sketch, digest
1.1A set of instructions given to a person about a job or task: his brief is to turn around the country’s economy
More example sentences
  • When we receive a brief from a casting director, we go through our book of models and put forward who we think is suitable for the job.
  • After receiving an informative brief on the testing process given by the warrant officer, the staff were counted.
  • Chief executives of government authorities often complain that they are not given an unambiguous brief with clear mandates and a single objective.
1.2US A written summary of the facts and legal points supporting one side of a case, for presentation to a court.
Example sentences
  • The briefs on the other side of the case were written exclusively by major media companies, congressmen, and copyright holders.
  • The team put together mountains of legal briefs to support the argument that Texas had no right to control the private conduct of its citizens.
  • The Association has issued a number of legal briefs to support the civil rights of individuals.
1.3A letter from the Pope to a person or community on a matter of discipline.
Example sentences
  • He has delivered a papal brief recommending it to that prince that he will take the same steps in this matter.
  • He discovered that the agreement, far from being in accordance with the papal Brief, was in direct opposition to it.
  • For a papal brief to be valid, it has to be read in the presence of those whom it concerns.


[with object]
Instruct or inform (someone) thoroughly, especially in preparation for a task: she briefed him on last week’s decisions
More example sentences
  • He has all the information you'll need and will brief you thoroughly.
  • However, you can't fake knowledge, and the waiter was thoroughly briefed on all aspects of the menu.
  • Figuring I'd briefed him thoroughly on the other aspects of the policy, I answered his question.
inform, tell, update, notify, advise, apprise;
prepare, prime, instruct
informal fill in, clue in, put in the picture



hold no brief for

Not support or argue in favor of: I hold no brief for the president
More example sentences
  • I definitely hold no brief for the Board and can never support its stand on these matters.
  • I hold no brief for the organization, and the vast majority of Americans don't either.
  • This newspaper holds no brief for the Chief Justice.

in brief

In a few words; in short: he is, in brief, the embodiment of evil the news in brief
More example sentences
  • Taking a look at news in brief tonight, a winter storm dropped up to 10 inches of snow in parts of the Midwest.
  • The consequence is mass unemployment and weakened schemes for social protection - in brief, a breaking up of society.
  • Here's the big guy's cinematic history in brief.



Pronunciation: /ˈbrēfnəs/
Example sentences
  • Despite the briefness of the play, there is certainly no lack of depth here.
  • Surprised by the briefness of the conversation, I stuttered back, ‘O-okay, I guess.’
  • Despite its briefness, Mason's work is the best of the three actors who are first billed in the film.


Middle English: from Old French brief, from Latin brevis 'short'. The noun is via late Latin breve 'note, dispatch', hence 'an official letter'.

  • Briefs or underpants, which were first worn in the 1930s, are literally ‘shorts’. Brief comes from the Latin word brevis, meaning ‘short’, a root shared by abbreviate (Late Middle English) and the musical note breve (Late Middle English), which used to mean a short note.

Words that rhyme with brief

aperitif, beef, belief, chief, enfeoff, fief, grief, interleaf, leaf, Leif, lief, Mazar-e-Sharif, misbelief, motif, naif, O'Keeffe, reef, seif, Sharif, sheaf, shereef, sportif, Tenerife, thief

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: brief

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