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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.]
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
com•pen•di•ous(kəmˈpɛn di əs)
containing the substance of a subject, esp. an extensive one, in a concise form; succinct.
[1350–1400; < Latin]
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|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"