What does concise mean? You’re about to find out!
Quick Vocab Quiz for the word concise
First, before you read the explanation, definition, and discussion of the word concise, try this quick vocab quiz:
concise most nearly means
(A) sharp (B) bitter (C) brief (D) important (E) oily
Part of Speech: ADJECTIVE
Pronunciations: IPA: /kən.ˈsaɪs/ Glossary-style: [kuhn-SAIS]
Definition: using few words yet still expressing all important information (Ex: a concise description).
Example: Miles was known for being concise; he used few words when expressing himself, and did not particularly enjoy engaging in idle chitchat.
Discussion: My students who know the word concise frequently define it as “short and to the point”, which I suppose works fine for the purposes of most.
But the true essence of the word concise is that it’s not just short, and it’s not just “to the point”, but it’s also not lacking any vital information. We therefore think of concise language as language that is devoid of linguistic fluff or is especially dense.
How about some examples of concise language? Let’s compare pairs, one concise and one not so concise. (In all cases, the shorter version is the more concise one.)
Examples of concise writing or speech
- Imagine a housemate talking to another. Here are two different ways to express similar ideas:
- “Did I hear you correctly? That you’re going to the grocery store? Um, if you don’t mind, while you’re at the store, if it’s not too much trouble, do you think you pick up some organic Fuji apples for us? I’d really, really appreciate it. And of course I’d be happy to reimburse you when you get back.” vs.
- “Oh, you’re going to the store? Could you buy some organic Fuji apples for us? I will pay you back later.”
- Now imagine a teacher talking to a student. Here are two versions:
- “Your writing has been improving a lot, but still shows a lot of room for improvement. I can tell that you’re trying really hard, but I can still see a bunch of grammar mistakes here and there that I really think you should try to address as soon as you can before you stop noticing that you’re actually making the errors. Trust me, one day, you’ll be glad you put in the work and improved your writing!” vs.
- “You continue to make the same grammar mistakes that I’ve pointed out in the past. You’re risking fossilization of these errors. If you don’t heed my advice, you’ll regret not doing so.”
- And one of my favorites:
- “If you do things too quickly, you run the risk of making mistakes that you will need to fix later, thus causing you to spend more time than you would have had you taken your time to do things carefully or properly.”
- “Haste makes waste.”