Printable Version
Pronunciation: bre-vi-lê-kwint Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Laconic, terse, concise, to the point without superfluous verbiage

Notes: Here is one of the many words hiding in the dark recesses of the English lexicon. It was heard recently in an episode of the British TV comedy "Doc Martin", a favorite of mine. So far as I'm concerned, if Doc Martin uses it, we all should. The noun, like those from all adjectives ending on -ant/-ent, is breviloquence, and the adverb, breviloquently. We have a surprising number of related words, including grandiloquent "bombastic", vaniloquent "speaking foolishly" and, of course, eloquent.

In Play: Breviloquent may be used instead of concise if you need a few extra syllables, or if you need to be either discreet or arcane: "Henry is a very breviloquent poet; he doesn't waste words." However, if you wish to practice breviloquence yourself, speak bluntly to the point: "Nada Farthingsworth is a very breviloquent speaker because she has so little to say."

Word History: Today's Good, if all but abandoned, Word is a Latin compound made up of brevis "short, low, little, shallow" + loquen(t)s, the present participle of loqui "to speak". Brevis, believe it or not, comes from the Proto-Indo-European word mregh-u- "short". It turned up in Greek as brakhys "short", in Old Church Slavonic bruzeja "shallow places, shoals", and Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten". The Latin word bracchium "arm, branch" originally referred only to the upper arm, the shorter part of the arm. The word pretzel goes back to the presumed Medieval Latin diminutive of bracchium, brachitellum "little arm". Even though this type of biscuit had been enjoyed by the Romans, a French monk began tying them in the knotted shape of today's pretzel. He wanted to symbolize arms folded in prayer, hence the name derived from brachitellum. This explains why the German word can be Brezel. (Lew Jury's recommendation of today's Good Word was most breviloquent. I thank him for the suggestion and the breviloquence.)

Dr. Goodword,

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