Definition of breve in English:



  • 1Music
    A note, rarely used in modern music, having the time value of two semibreves, and represented as a semibreve with two short bars either side, or as a square.

    • ‘The relationship between the semibreve and the minim is exactly the same as that accorded to the breve and semibreve.’
    • ‘Semi means half, and although rare and rather ancient, the British system includes the breve in its logic.’
    • ‘The other 3 pieces are textless and mainly in long-breve notation.’
    • ‘This consists simply of four notes written out on a single stave in breves.’
  • 2A written or printed mark (˘) indicating a short or unstressed vowel.

    • ‘The vowel letters that are used in conjunction with the breve symbol are replaced by compound vowel letters.’
    • ‘Accent caron, which should be used in pinyin instead of accent breve is not always supported.’
    • ‘Other explanations of English verse use more convenient typography as substitutes for the acute accent and breve.’
  • 3historical An authoritative letter from a pope or monarch.

    • ‘The authority of the English crown in Ireland rested ultimately on the grant of the lordship in the alleged breve Laudibiliter.’
    • ‘In these cases the title of breve might be accompanied or replaced by that of notitia, or memoratorium.’
    • ‘The Jesuits took care to notify the general disregard for the papal breve.’
    • ‘The papal breve is presented to the king, who must choose the day and place for the presentation ceremony.’


Middle English: variant of brief. In the musical sense, the term was originally used in a series where a long was of greater time value than a breve.