Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal.


Containing or stating briefly all the essentials of something; comprehensive and concise.

[Middle English, from Late Latin compendiōsus, abridged, shortened, from Latin compendium, a shortening; see compendium.]

com·pen′di·ous·ly adv.
Usage Note: Traditionally, something that is compendious contains all the essentials in a handy format. It is therefore both comprehensive and concise. This inherent tension—to be comprehensive, it must include abundant detail, yet to be concise, it must be somehow condensed—opens the word up to varied interpretations. Sometimes it is used where expansive, extensive, or even capacious might be a better fit. The Usage Panel dislikes these usages, perhaps because they fly in the face of the word's etymology. In our 2005 survey, 64 percent rejected the sentence Although the investigators gave compendious details on what went on inside the prison, they only told part of the story. Similarly, 66 percent found unacceptable A good journalist needs a compendious memory. But the fact that a third of the Panel accepted these sentences suggests that there is some confusion about the word even among well-educated writers. The traditional use itself did not gain more than 65 percent of the Panel's acceptance in compendious handbooks that provide a greater wealth of information than most students will ever have the opportunity to enjoy, where the emphasis falls on the comprehensive rather than the concise. And when the word is used as a synonym of succinct, a majority of the Panel rejects it. Some 58 percent found unacceptable the sentence The report would have been more admirably compendious if the editors had cut it by fifty pages. So in many cases it might be best to avoid compendious and choose another word.


(Literary & Literary Critical Terms) containing or stating the essentials of a subject in a concise form; succinct
comˈpendiously adv
comˈpendiousness n


(kəmˈpɛn di əs)

containing the substance of a subject, esp. an extensive one, in a concise form; succinct.
[1350–1400; < Latin]
com•pen′di•ous•ly, adv.
com•pen′di•ous•ness, n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.compendious - briefly giving the gist of something; "a short and compendious book"; "a compact style is brief and pithy"; "succinct comparisons"; "a summary formulation of a wide-ranging subject"
concise - expressing much in few words; "a concise explanation"


Marked by or consisting of few words that are carefully chosen:


[kəmˈpendɪəs] ADJcompendioso


adj notes etcumfangreich
References in classic literature ?
I'll get a crucible, and into it, and dissolve myself down to one small, compendious vertebra.
It will be my aim to remove the obstacles from your progress in as compendious a manner as it can be done, without sacrificing utility to despatch.
The damsels wear nothing but flowers and their compendious gala tunics; and when they plume themselves for the dance, they look like a band of olive-coloured Sylphides on the point of taking wing.
It was a sort of hand-book for women with grievances (and all women had them), a sort of compendious theory and practice of feminine free morality.
Pullet entered crying, as a compendious mode, at all times, of expressing what were her views of life in general, and what, in brief, were the opinions she held concerning the particular case before her.
3 and 4, coming across as formally compendious, yet at the expense of forfeiting the Schubertian dimensions, hence also the potential of letting the compositions flow widely and alternate in moods.
It is a rare academic book these days that makes me wish it was longer, more compendious, and that speaks to the originality and obvious importance of the volume.
Although at times the text's methodological digressions can impede its progress, the committed reader can glean much from Parkins's compendious marshalling of previous sources, her zest for ferreting out contradictions, and her consistently engaged and spirited observations.
Publishing eight books in rapid-fire succession, from the compendious Ancient Cosmos and Contemporary Science (1927) to the breathtaking Dialectic of Myth (1930; available in English translation by Vladimir Marchenkov), at times Losev seems locked in a quixotic and apocalyptic battle against Soviet Marxism; it ended with him arrested in 1930 and consigned to hard labor at the notorious White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal.
Amnesty International has produced compendious evidence of mass abduction and detention, beating and routine torture, killings and atrocities by the rebel militias Britain, France and the US have backed.
First published in 1684, the autobiographical pamphlet - entitled A Plain and Compendious Relation of the Case of Mrs Mary Hampson - anticipates the confessional and scandal-ridden memoirs and autobiographies that are devoured by readers today.
But, dissatisfied with his own efforts, on his return home to Leipzig, JSB set to compile the mind-bogglingly compendious Musical Offering, in which he subjects Frederick's little theme to the most rigorous academic treatment in a variety of forms.