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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.]

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 ?
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.
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.
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.
None of this is to gainsay the enormous importance of this wonderful and compendious collection of essays that will certainly be a starting point for most serious scholars who strive to understand the social setting of Paul in Corinth and the nature of his following there.
King explores the conundrum that is Thomas Bentley's compendious Monument of Matrons, a three-volume, 816-folio anthology of English women's writing which appeared in 1582 but was not reprinted until 2004, and which promises to "attract a greater readership during the twenty-first century than [it] did in the compiler's own age" (235).
Auspicious timing for this compendious exhibition, given the fashion for Picassoid wannabes with gargantuan ambitions.
The result is a compendious effort, full of excellent textual analysis that may, nevertheless, lead the critical reader to conclude that Palmquist's teacher was right after all.
In a chronological biography as compendious as this lies the risk that those very canonical jewels which may have attracted biographer and reader to their subject in the first place might somehow be dulled by the banality inherent in the petits faits vrais of a road (and a life) less travelled.
His Compendious Dictionary was published in 1806, following his various spelling books and revisions of English into American, and his American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.
Skinner is certainly correct that neither Ian Watt, in his magisterial The Rise of the Novel (1957), nor Michael McKeon, in his compendious The Origins of the English Novel (1987), devotes much attention to Smollett.