American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Short in time, duration, length, or extent.
- adj. Succinct; concise: a brief account of the incident.
- adj. Curt; abrupt.
- n. A short, succinct statement.
- n. A condensation or an abstract of a larger document or series of documents.
- n. Law A formal outline listing main contentions along with supporting evidence and documentation.
- n. Law A document containing all the facts and points of law pertinent to a specific case, filed by an attorney before arguing the case in court.
- n. Roman Catholic Church A papal letter that is not as formal as a bull.
- n. A briefing.
- n. Short, tight-fitting underpants.
- v. To summarize.
- v. To give instructions or preparatory information to: briefed the astronauts before the mission.
- idiom. in brief In short.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Small with respect to length; short.
- Abbreviated; cut or made short: as, the brief skirts of a ballet-dancer. [Humorous.]—
- Short in duration; lasting a short time.
- Short in expression; using few words; concise; succinct.
- Clever; good: as, a brief discourse; “he gae us a very brief sermon,”
- Quick; ready; eager.
- [Appar. a particular use of brief, short (hence quick, active, rife?); but some suppose a confusion with rife.] Common; rife; prevalent: as, I hear smallpox is very brief there.
- In short.
- Synonyms Short-lived, ephemeral, transitory, fleeting.
- Compact, compendious.
- n. A short or concise writing; a short statement or account; an epitome.
- n. Specifically In law: A formal memorandum in systematic order, but concisely expressed, of the points of law or of fact to be developed or expanded in argument, or to be pursued in the examination of a witness; in English law, more usually an abridged relation of the facts of a litigated case drawn up by the attorney for the instruction of a barrister in conducting proceedings in a court of justice.
- n. A writ summoning one to answer to any action; or any precept of the sovereign in writing issuing from any court and ordering something to be done. In Scots law, same as brieve (which see). In England, a letter patent from proper authority authorizing a public collection or charitable contribution of money for any public or private purpose; a license to make collections for repairing churches, making up for losses by fire, etc.: sometimes called a church brief or king's letter.
- n. A writing in general; a letter.
- n. In music, same as breve
- n. The name given to certain official documents emanating from the pope, having a less solemn character than a bull.
- n. [Also spelled breif, breef, ⟨ OF. bref, brief, a spell, talisman, ⟨ ML. breve, in pl. brevia, a writing containing magical characters carried as an amulet or talisman: a particular use of L. breve, a writing, as above.] A spell. Burns. [Scotch.] Synonyms Abridgment, Compendium, Compend, etc. See
- To abridge; shorten; make a brief of: as, to brief pleadings.
- To furnish with a brief; instruct by a brief.
- In brief; in short; briefly.
- In or after a short time; soon; quickly.
- n. law A writ summoning one to answer to any action.
- n. law An answer to any action.
- n. law A memorandum of points of fact or of law for use in conducting a case.
- n. law An attorney's legal argument in written form for submission to a court.
- n. English law The material relevant to a case, delivered by a solicitor to the barrister who tries the case.
- n. informal A short news story or report.
- n. obsolete A summary, précis or epitome; an abridgement or abstract.
- v. transitive To knowledgeably summarize a recent development to some person with decision-making power.
- v. transitive, law To write a legal argument and submit it to a court.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. Short in duration.
- adj. Concise; terse; succinct.
- adj. Prov. Eng. Rife; common; prevalent.
- adv. Obs. or Poetic Briefly.
- adv. obsolete Soon; quickly.
- n. A short concise writing or letter; a statement in few words.
- n. An epitome.
- n. (Law) An abridgment or concise statement of a client's case, made out for the instruction of counsel in a trial at law. This word is applied also to a statement of the heads or points of a law argument.
- n. (Law) A writ; a breve. See Breve, n., 2.
- n. (Scots Law) A writ issuing from the chancery, directed to any judge ordinary, commanding and authorizing that judge to call a jury to inquire into the case, and upon their verdict to pronounce sentence.
- n. engraving A letter patent, from proper authority, authorizing a collection or charitable contribution of money in churches, for any public or private purpose.
- n. a type of men's underpants without legs, fitting tightly and held by an elastic waistband; also called
- v. To make an abstract or abridgment of; to shorten.
- n. a document stating the facts and points of law of a client's case
- n. a condensed written summary or abstract
- adj. (of clothing) very short
- adj. of short duration or distance
- v. give essential information to someone
- adj. concise and succinct
- From Old French brief, from Latin brevis ("short"). Compare French bref. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English bref, from Old French, from Latin brevis. N., Middle English bref, written communication, from Old French, from Medieval Latin breve, from Latin, neuter of brevis, short; see mregh-u- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The brief you will be making now will consist of an _introduction_, which states whatever facts and principles are necessary to an understanding of the brief, and the _brief_ itself, which consists of a series of propositions, each supporting your main contention, and each in turn supported by others, which again may each be supported by another series.”
“Secretary Gates used the term brief pause again in his testimony.”
“At any rate, without going into that specifically, in February he used the term brief pause.”
“That, in brief, is the purpose of this little volume, in which Dr. Raper summarizes the results of careful studies, made by himself and Professor Walter Chivers, of the eight-four lynchings of the past five years.”
“What, in brief, is the operative relation between aesthetic pleasure and criticism?”
“Such in brief is the outline of the Indian State as it has emerged through the fifties.”
“Such in brief is my specification for a genus Americans, whose voice I do not hear.”
“This, in brief, is the system which has been laid out for us by child experts and educators generally, and the well-to‑do parents of America have accepted it without question as the normal and natural procedure in the upbringing of their children.”
“This, in brief, is the sum and substance of Miss Stisted's indictment of Lady”
“Mr. Lowe: When what I call my brief career as a pop star ended, I found myself on sort of the scrap heap, even though I had done fairly well.”
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