Definition of terse in English:



  • Sparing in the use of words; abrupt.

    ‘a terse statement’
    • ‘I duly and rapidly typed and laminated a terse notice and stuck it on the wall requesting the return of said item and then forgot about it.’
    • ‘The material is clearly set out in short, terse points and this enables you to save time researching vast amounts of material.’
    • ‘The terse statement issued by both parties today didn't elaborate on the deal.’
    • ‘The language in the book is terse and concise, almost laconic, and very much to the point.’
    • ‘The pity and the terror of the situation is conveyed in terse crisp prose.’
    • ‘The author favours short, spare sentences and a terse descriptive style.’
    • ‘As the terse replies pile up, I am on the point of suggesting that he looks weary, as though his dog has died, only for it to emerge that his dog has died.’
    • ‘A private school has sent a terse letter to parents instructing them how to behave properly at sports events.’
    • ‘He will also be fondly remembered for terse and often humorous phrases, anecdotes and gems of wisdom.’
    • ‘It is his kind, if rather terse and gruff manner that has turned his shop into an excellent meeting place for people and ideas.’
    • ‘In a terse statement on the subject, Alcatel said the redundancies were part of its cost management initiatives.’
    • ‘It was a typically terse rejoinder from a character who has never hidden his mystification for those who squander their natural talent.’
    • ‘I got a terse letter informing me he had raised the issues I had mentioned with the relevant parties and he could do no more for me.’
    • ‘The terse, 10-word motion will be considered by members in a special hour-long debate this afternoon.’
    • ‘Naturally, the major agencies have all issued terse statements rejecting the allegations.’
    • ‘The submitted essays range in length from a few terse words to a screenful of close type.’
    • ‘The board also issued a terse statement which was a big slap in the face for their second-largest individual shareholder.’
    • ‘His work is a collection of many short terse sentences which convey the barest minimum of teaching about yoga.’
    • ‘It's not so much that he is a good writer: there are lots of people out there who can write with angry terse eloquence, even if not enough do.’
    • ‘As far as I can tell, the Times has yet to expand on its original terse and unbylined story.’
    curt, brusque, abrupt, clipped, blunt, gruff, short, brief, concise, succinct, to the point, compact, crisp, pithy, incisive, short and sweet, economical, laconic, epigrammatic, summary, condensed
    View synonyms


Early 17th century: from Latin tersus wiped, polished from the verb tergere. The original sense was polished, trim, spruce (relating to language) polished, polite hence concise and to the point (late 18th century).