One definition of verbose states:

characterized by the use of many or too many words; wordy: a verbose report.

Some (including the above link) suggest that the opposite is concise or laconic, however both mean covering much in few words.

Is there an opposite of verbose which means the use of too few words?

Here's a blog post about this, although it doesn't offer an alternative.

  • Antonyms of verbose. The best two for your question are terse and curt, although the latter had a decided negative connotation of rudeness. – user21497 Apr 17 '13 at 15:20
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    @hayden Certainly pauciloquent has “too few words” built right into it. Otherwise, just use multiple words. – tchrist Apr 17 '13 at 18:24
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    I would consider succinct the opposite, but it doesn't convey having too few words - it has just enough (which is much less than most people would use). – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 17 '13 at 18:42
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    One-word answers should be allowed, just for this question. – Kaz Apr 17 '13 at 22:44
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    depending on how the rest of your sentence is structured, sparse worked for me as an antonym – Hashbrown Jan 16 '19 at 6:39

11 Answers 11


Terse: sparing in the use of words; abrupt - "a terse statement". The current use according to OED is "Freed from verbal redundancy; neatly concise; compact and pithy in style or language."

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    I’d argue that for the purpose of this question “terse” is almost a synonym to “concise”, neither means “too few words to express the content”. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 18 '13 at 12:04
  • @KonradRudolph: I agree with you, it doesn't fit the "too few" requirement... It is more "as little as possible". Then the right antonym may be simply : short ? or shorted ? – Olivier Dulac Apr 18 '13 at 12:20
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    @Olivier I actually think “curt” is the perfect antonym. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 18 '13 at 12:24
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    @KonradRudolph: it does indeed seem to fit nicely too. +1 to you. – Olivier Dulac Apr 18 '13 at 12:30
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    +1. It should also be noted that in hacker jargon, verbose and terse are pretty much perfect antonyms. Many linux command line tools have "terse" modes vs. "verbose" modes (to indicate how much status information they should output as they perform their operation). – Ben Lee Apr 19 '13 at 21:16

How about:


suc·cinct [suhk-singkt]

1. expressed in few words; concise; terse.

2. characterized by conciseness or verbal brevity.

3. compressed into a small area, scope, or compass.

From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/succinct

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    +1, because it was my first thought... but no, it does not mean "too few" words – sq33G Apr 18 '13 at 10:04
  • I guess I should have posted this as an answer instead of a comment... – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 19 '13 at 15:23

If a simple curt is too short for you, there’s always pauciloquent, meaning with few words. All pauciloquies are by definition laconic ones rather than Polonian speeches.

Whether that implies that not enough words were curtly spoken by the tight-lipped orator, or just the right number, is open to individual interpretation.

  • Whether or not it is what he wants, thank you for mentioning pauciloquent. Good word. Not sure if it covers 'too few', though ... – hunter2 Apr 18 '13 at 5:29
  • @hunter2 It does. Pauci- specifically means “few” and -loquent means “speaking”. See also eloquent, grandiloquent, magniloquent, melliloquent, coproloquent. – tchrist Apr 18 '13 at 11:57
  • @tchrist: great word, but still "few speaking" doesn't induce "too few". "too few" indicates words are missing to be correct/complete. I propose: short or shorted – Olivier Dulac Apr 18 '13 at 12:22
  • Yes, I understand that it covers "few words", but as Olivier says, that doesn't strictly mean too few. I do recognize that 'paucity' generally suggests not just 'few', but 'too few', although the defn you linked doesn't suggest 'the too' - hence "not sure". As I said in a comment to the question, 'verbose' doesn't strictly mean too many, either, so ... IDK. – hunter2 Apr 19 '13 at 2:56
  • Also, does coproloquent mean what I think it does? Wow ... – hunter2 Apr 19 '13 at 2:57

Someone who is "taciturn" speaks little.

Definition from the Free Online Dictionary: habitually silent, reserved, or uncommunicative; not inclined to conversation [from Latin taciturnus, from tacitus silent, from tacēre to be silent]

A more colorful way to describe a person who uses too few words is "tight-lipped", though this can mean, depending on context, that someone is not willing to speak, as if they are keeping a secret.


I always liked the word laconic.

using or involving the use of a minimum of words : concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious - Definition from Miriam Webster

Although I don't get enough opportunities to use it. In the sense of "consise to the point of seeming rude", it implies the use of too few words.


yet another option would be brief

adj. brief·er, brief·est
1. Short in time, duration, length, or extent.
2. Succinct; concise: a brief account of the incident.
3. Curt; abrupt.
1. A short, succinct statement.
2. A condensation or an abstract of a larger document or series of documents.

particularly the 3rd definition as an adjective seems to fit

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    +1 because brief is also the opposite of verbose in Zork. – Bradd Szonye Apr 19 '13 at 5:18

I don't think there is a regularly-used, modern English word that means "too few words to convey meaning". There is, however, one word that does mean that, albeit as a rarely-used meaning in modern use.

That word is elliptic. Elliptic, as Merriam-Webster defines it, has two principal meanings:

1: of, relating to, or shaped like an ellipse


a : of, relating to, or marked by ellipsis or an ellipsis

b (1) : of, relating to, or marked by extreme economy of speech or writing (2) : of or relating to deliberate obscurity (as of literary or conversational style)

It definitely has the sense of concision and omission of important detail. "An elliptic report", to my mind, would be one that was not thorough or complete, perhaps leaping to conclusions without sufficient justification, etc.

With all that said, however, for most people elliptical would refer to the shape.


I am not English so be kind. But from French, I would say succinct would be my first choice, brief, concise, expressed with very little words.

I don't think you can find the perfect opposite for "too many words", because with "not enough words" you can't really express anything but meaningless sentences. Maybe with "an explanation being too brief"

Also we have condensé in French, don't know if you can say condensed in English, as something with a higher density.


These all depend on context, but if I wanted to express that someone used too few words to get a concept across, I might use the following to describe their delivery:

  • bare
  • lacking
  • wanting
  • needing
  • incomplete

These are perhaps not antonyms to "verbose" specifically, but I hope they help.


How about brevity ?

Cambridge Dictionary describes it as "using only a few words or lasting only a short time".

Also, here

brevity [ˈbrɛvɪtɪ]
n pl -ties
1. conciseness of expression; lack of verbosity
2. a short duration; brief time
[from Latin brevitās shortness, from brevis brief]
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    Brevity is not an adjective. – RegDwigнt Apr 24 '13 at 9:29
  • Would bereft work in-place for an adjective? – Hashbrown Jan 16 '19 at 6:36

Pithy and meaty can be added to the list.

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