Definition of terse in English:


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adjectiveadjective terser, adjective tersest

  • Sparing in the use of words; abrupt.

    ‘a terse statement’
    • ‘The terse, 10-word motion will be considered by members in a special hour-long debate this afternoon.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The material is clearly set out in short, terse points and this enables you to save time researching vast amounts of material.’
    • ‘It is his kind, if rather terse and gruff manner that has turned his shop into an excellent meeting place for people and ideas.’
    • ‘Naturally, the major agencies have all issued terse statements rejecting the allegations.’
    • ‘The language in the book is terse and concise, almost laconic, and very much to the point.’
    • ‘In a terse statement on the subject, Alcatel said the redundancies were part of its cost management initiatives.’
    • ‘The terse statement issued by both parties today didn't elaborate on the deal.’
    • ‘The pity and the terror of the situation is conveyed in terse crisp prose.’
    • ‘His work is a collection of many short terse sentences which convey the barest minimum of teaching about yoga.’
    • ‘The author favours short, spare sentences and a terse descriptive style.’
    • ‘It was a typically terse rejoinder from a character who has never hidden his mystification for those who squander their natural talent.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He will also be fondly remembered for terse and often humorous phrases, anecdotes and gems of wisdom.’
    • ‘A private school has sent a terse letter to parents instructing them how to behave properly at sports events.’
    • ‘As far as I can tell, the Times has yet to expand on its original terse and unbylined story.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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
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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).