For example:

The instructions must be detailed and concise.

  • 2
    Are detailed and concise contrary notions? No. Have you checked?
    – Kris
    Jan 20, 2014 at 13:44
  • It helps to think in terms of information density. Lots of information (detailed) in a small space (concise).
    – Izkata
    Jan 20, 2014 at 19:28
  • There's a contrast, so I'd use 'detailed yet concise'. // The default meaning of 'oxymoron' is 'a concisely stated paradox' rather than 'a concisely stated contradiction in terms'. Mar 25 at 23:41

5 Answers 5


No, "detailed and concise" is not an oxymoron. Not any more than describing a crust as tender and flaky would be. Both are statements of balanced purposes, which together shape the desired result.

Detailed in context means "thoroughly describing all relevant parts."

Concise in context means "free of superfluous detail."

Hence, "detailed and concise" means "thoroughly describing all relevant parts without superfluous detail."

  • 4
    why must you describe a delicious pie. Berries aren't even in season in North America..
    – bobobobo
    Jan 20, 2014 at 18:20

I think it is not an oxymoron; the phrase "detailed and concise" enforces an idea. In this case an oxymoron might be "detailed summary".

  • Something can be a detailed summary if the original version was yet more detailed (from 1000000 words to 10000 words). But that's nit-picking.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 25 at 21:39

Compendious is a single word meaning "detailed and concise". If the latter is an oxymoron, then the former would be a single-word example of an oxymoron.


At first reading it does seem to be, but it could be taken to mean 'as concise as possible while covering all the details'.

  • You are right. Substantiate your answer and it may get qualified as the answer even. Include more supporting information citing reliable sources.
    – Kris
    Jan 20, 2014 at 13:47
  • In resumes, we use 'brief and descriptive', which is accepted as usual; not an oxymoron.
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 27, 2019 at 16:23

Well, you are partially right.

Detailed is sometimes used as a euphemism for "long-winded". As in,

Those instructions are rather, uh, detailed.

So if the word detailed is not intended as a euphemism, then it is in the very least a wrong word choice. What he probably meant to say was exact instead. As in

The instructions must be exact and concise.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.