Definition of brief in English:



  • 1Of short duration; not lasting for long.

    ‘the president made a brief working visit to Moscow’
    • ‘As Cheska and Steve starred at each other for a brief moment the only expression Cheska could not hide was fear.’
    • ‘He paused for the brief spattering of polite applause that followed.’
    • ‘Turning to Dimitri, her once stoic expression was shattered as a brief smirk lightened her face.’
    • ‘And a brief visit to their shuttle home was restricted to the upper level.’
    • ‘The knight gave a brief nod at Pher's words, expressionless.’
    • ‘She had gotten a brief visit from her family, and had hated it.’
    • ‘It consists of regularly scheduled, brief office visits.’
    • ‘A brief visit to the temple in the house completes his morning routine before breakfast with the family.’
    • ‘Orion must have noticed my horrified expression, because he continued after only a brief hesitation.’
    • ‘The brief visit left no time for discovery or inquiry.’
    • ‘She decided to pay a brief visit to one of the stalls herself.’
    • ‘It recoiled, struggling to crawl away, and its features twisted into a brief expression of pain or rage.’
    • ‘His blank expression broke into a brief grin that disappeared almost as quickly as it had come.’
    • ‘He took a mouthful of his ready made breakfast to hide the brief lapse in expression.’
    • ‘Formal psychotherapy is difficult in a brief office visit.’
    • ‘Mr. Williams stammered, after flashed his daughter a brief expression of shock.’
    • ‘But during his brief tenure, Thomson has had choice words for both the government and the opposition.’
    • ‘He'd asked to be allowed just one visit, one brief encounter with Angel.’
    • ‘An image of Liza surfaced in his mind for a brief second and her words of their last interaction echoed in his head.’
    • ‘Only then does the audience have its brief opportunity to launch incisive ripostes into the heart of the thesis.’
    • ‘After its brief exposure, the word was masked and a letter was shown above and below one of the letter positions.’
    • ‘Her son gave a brief smile, comforted by those words but still not completely sure that they would follow through.’
    • ‘The entire middle section of the book details this brief visit.’
    short, flying, fleeting, hasty, hurried, quick, cursory, perfunctory
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    1. 1.1Concise in expression; using few words.
      ‘introductions were brief and polite’
      ‘be brief and don't talk for longer than is necessary’
      • ‘It covers ten areas, besides a brief foreword and a crisp introduction.’
      • ‘They can send simple and brief messages like that but there's no easy way to communicate with a submarine.’
      • ‘I didn't get out of my chair right away, her brief words deeply troubled me.’
      • ‘This essay also showcases MacDonald's ability to capture the essence of a piece of music in a few brief words.’
      • ‘Before moving on to a discussion of Mexicans in Aurora, a brief word is in order about sources.’
      • ‘She had hoped her brief explosion in words would have ceased his badgering.’
      • ‘She offered polite, brief responses and laughed right along.’
      • ‘He firmly gripped the hilt of his long sword and shouted brief words of refusal.’
      • ‘The information is brief and concise, and gives the reader a general overview of the various organ systems.’
      • ‘Once Heather saw that her mission had been accomplished, she sauntered over to Chez and spoke a few brief words.’
      • ‘He vaguely heard a brief exchange of words between Yulia and Jana.’
      • ‘A brief interchange of words resulted in the unanimous decision to escape as soon as possible.’
      • ‘Intervention messages should contain simple and brief information and avoid complexity.’
      • ‘With a brief word from his chauffeur, they were allowed admittance.’
      • ‘During this brief exchange of words, Klauss had ventured over to the crumpled picture and unfurled it.’
      • ‘The minister had a brief word with the American team leader and left without eating or drinking anything.’
      • ‘A brief word, though, about Ms. Young, whom I'd never heard of before.’
      • ‘He seemed to sense this and gave her a hug whispering brief words of comfort to her.’
      • ‘Whenever we passed on the street we exchanged brief words but that had been it.’
      • ‘She delivered the message in a few brief words, then put down the phone.’
      • ‘A few brief words about the move to Skaggerak in 1902.’
      concise, succinct, short, thumbnail, to the point, pithy, incisive, short and sweet, crisp, abridged, condensed, compressed, abbreviated, compact, compendious, potted
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  • 2(of a piece of clothing) not covering much of the body; scanty.

    ‘Alison sported a pair of extremely brief black shorts’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The room Tripitaka entered contained about 30 women, all dressed in very brief clothing.’
    • ‘Mosquito bites line the insides of my legs only stopping at the brief cloth on my lower body that some would call shorts.’
    skimpy, scanty, revealing, short
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  • 1British A set of instructions given to a person about a job or task.

    ‘his brief is to turn round the county's fortunes’
    • ‘This retained a lot of the edginess that you might associate with the band whilst adding the elements that was required from the original brief.’
    • ‘Over the past year anyone with a brief to invest in, say, small companies or commodities would have naturally outperformed.’
    • ‘The brief was to produce something that could be turned into a tattoo - something with not too much fine detail.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He felt that the brief was too abstract.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Design is accomplishing the task, according to the brief, to the customer's satisfaction.’
    • ‘It had to widen its brief to embrace purchasing and information technology as well.’
    • ‘Without any brief or instruction, the man had made his home in a clearing and even cultivated a small potato crop.’
    • ‘It doesn't matter how good your brief and debrief are if you haven't got airplanes to fight with.’
    • ‘After the brief, we dash to complete one more task before strapping on the jet.’
    • ‘What we all hoped - and actually, it was all part of the brief - that it would be political.’
    • ‘Most of what you get from your clients in a creative brief is akin to stereo instructions in terms of dramatic impact and sheer volume.’
    • ‘But surely he can't be a currently serving, if he abuses his brief so widely?’
    • ‘What four areas should be covered in the task definition section of a creative brief?’
    • ‘Once we get a brief from a client there is a research stage and a brainstorming session.’
    • ‘He stayed with the company until 1994, where his experiences bled into the brief behind Theatre Absolute.’
    • ‘In the interests of simplicity and keeping things as open as possible, it has been decided to go for an open brief with only a few key guidelines.’
    • ‘Adam brought his ten-year-old son to him, with a brief to knock the boy's piano technique into shape.’
    instructions, directions, directives, briefing
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  • 2British Law
    A summary of the facts and legal points in a case given to a barrister to argue in court.

    • ‘My brief in this matter arose only some 40 minutes ago.’
    • ‘I don't know whether there has been an order for briefs to be filed.’
    summary of the facts, case, argument, contention
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    1. 2.1A piece of work for a barrister.
      ‘he cannot be too highly recommended, if he is free and will take the brief’
      • ‘Indeed, Mr Ross, now in his seventies, is still at his desk, working as a barrister taking briefs.’
      • ‘When I was a very young barrister, I had a brief to defend a man who was charged with assaulting the police.’
      • ‘He was a barrister, he was offered a brief.’
      • ‘The Bar Council last week announced that barristers could now take briefs directly from members of the public.’
      • ‘Less prominent counsel was equally able to undertake the work and would have taken the brief for a lesser amount.’
    2. 2.2informal A solicitor or barrister.
      ‘it was only his brief's eloquence that had saved him from prison’
    3. 2.3US A written statement of the facts and legal points supporting one side of a case, for presentation to a court.
      • ‘We're taught how to write case briefs, memorandums, appellate briefs, and case citations.’
      • ‘The office also writes amicus briefs applying psychological research to legal issues.’
      • ‘Heavy amicus curiae briefs are filed in support of both upholding and reversing the Circuit Court's decision.’
      • ‘To what extent is it appropriate for judges to ‘borrow’ language from one side's brief?’
      • ‘The three groups in the brief sided with the British during World War II.’
      • ‘He didn't just file a brief; he helped write one with the Center for Law and Justice.’
      • ‘He presents legal briefs on violations of environmental law to the authorities.’
      • ‘Nineteen states have joined in an amicus brief supporting Kansas.’
      • ‘These are briefs in support of deportation orders, decidedly not a traditional civil rights function.’
      • ‘APA has filed an amicus brief in support of the policy.’
      • ‘He also helps to write legal briefs for other inmates.’
      • ‘The court have received these submissions as ‘friend of the court briefs,’ supporting one side or the other.’
      • ‘Skills like writing a brief, conducting a deposition, or arguing in court are useful by-products.’
      • ‘The brief set forth the argument in six concise points.’
      • ‘The briefs on the other side of the case were written exclusively by major media companies, congressmen, and copyright holders.’
      • ‘The Association has issued a number of legal briefs to support the civil rights of individuals.’
      • ‘And fifteen other states evidently agreed - filing amicus briefs in support of Alabama's position.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is noted that neither he nor the plaintiffs ever requested copies of the briefs or reports in writing or otherwise.’
      • ‘Counsel for the plaintiff shall make brief written submissions in reply and on costs within 10 days after that.’
  • 3A letter from the Pope to a person or community on a matter of discipline.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In 1773, following the expulsion of Jesuits from several European and Italian states, Clement XIV issued a brief suppressing the order.’


  • 1Instruct or inform (someone) thoroughly, especially in preparation for a task.

    ‘she briefed him on last week's decisions’
    • ‘However, you can't fake knowledge, and the waiter was thoroughly briefed on all aspects of the menu.’
    • ‘You can brief a witness all day long, all year long and the dynamics once you get in a courtroom always change.’
    • ‘Figuring I'd briefed him thoroughly on the other aspects of the policy, I answered his question.’
    • ‘He has all the information you'll need and will brief you thoroughly.’
    • ‘They made us sit on seats and Nina began to brief us with the projector showing us the information.’
    • ‘Lucky Tahlia got to sit through my cursing and weariness as she directed and briefed me.’
    • ‘If you'll inform Crane as soon as possible, we can brief him and get him on the inside ASAP.’
    • ‘We're going to brief you later on on who didn't get nominated and all that.’
    • ‘The volunteers were briefed about the study protocol and informed consent was obtained from them.’
    • ‘It is briefing me about the weather tomorrow.’
    • ‘But the one thing we were not able to do was brief the President directly.’
    • ‘And the general who briefed us this morning said he was well aware of them from the earlier Persian Gulf War.’
    • ‘He went to England in 2001 to brief the staff about water jets.’
    • ‘At his first meeting at the Pentagon three colonels briefed him.’
    • ‘Well before I answer, let me brief you on how it all began…’
    • ‘Do they brief the family as to the progress, or is it as difficult for you to get information?’
    • ‘They'd brief us if there were any serious threats.’
    • ‘Even the easy stuff is hard: scheduling meetings, briefing the right people, keeping the bureaucracy under control.’
    • ‘I briefed him in Kathmandu all about altitude illness so he'd know what to look for.’
    • ‘Another problem arose when he briefed his people about this mission.’
    inform of, tell about, bring up to date on, update on, notify of, advise of, acquaint with, apprise of, give information about
    prepare, prime, instruct, direct, guide
    give the gen on, give the rundown on, fill in on, gen up on, put in the picture about, clue in on, clue up about, keep up to speed with
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  • 2British Instruct (a barrister) by brief.

    • ‘That evening his solicitor was briefed by the police as to the circumstances of his arrest.’
    • ‘A very experienced barrister had been briefed, but the Kellys couldn't find the money for his fees.’
    • ‘We say that the solicitor was engaged and then briefed a barrister.’
    • ‘Counsel have to be briefed, solicitors have to be employed.’
    • ‘The exercise of sound judgment in briefing a barrister is one of the professional services a solicitor offers a client.’
    employ, authorize to act for one, give information to
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  • hold a brief for

    • Be retained as counsel for.

      • ‘This time around the lawyer parliamentarian is holding a brief for the devil.’
      • ‘Often counsel holding a brief for another does not read it in the confident expectation that the case would be postponed.’
  • hold no brief for

    • Not support or argue in favour of.

      ‘I hold no brief for dishonest policemen’
      • ‘I definitely hold no brief for the Board and can never support its stand on these matters.’
      • ‘One who holds no brief for this view in the first place will not be convinced by the present argument.’
      • ‘I hold no brief for the organization, and the vast majority of Americans don't either.’
      • ‘I hold no brief for him as an individual or for his policies.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘Hamlet, in brief, was right and the Danish Establishment was wrong.’
      • ‘After the sports news, THBN repeated their lead story in brief.’
      • ‘Taking a look at news in brief tonight, a winter storm dropped up to 10 inches of snow in parts of the Midwest.’
      • ‘We will cover in brief different options you have while considering your holiday.’
      • ‘This article is featured in brief on the website.’
      • ‘They have, in brief, become the Establishment.’
      • ‘The argument, in brief, is that if the means of production are socialized then there would be no prices to guide producers.’
      • ‘The consequence is mass unemployment and weakened schemes for social protection - in brief, a breaking up of society.’
      • ‘Some magnificent artistic traditions have been illustrated here in brief.’
      • ‘Here's the big guy's cinematic history in brief.’
      in short, in brief, to put it briefly, to cut a long story short, in a word, to sum up, in sum, to come to the point, in essence, in outline
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Middle English: from Old French brief, from Latin brevis short. The noun is via late Latin breve note, dispatch, hence ‘an official letter’.