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According to OED, the most common use of "terse" is:

Freed from verbal redundancy; neatly concise; compact and pithy in style or language.

I've see some usage of terse conciseness, or terse brevity, or similar constructions. To me that seems redundant, even ironic. Am I wrong?

  • Seems redundant to me too. – Colin Fine Nov 1 '14 at 23:39
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    Even though there's often an overlap in meaning, terse and concise relate to different aspects. There is no redundancy per se in using both. ... – Kris Nov 2 '14 at 0:14
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    ... Terseness is only about being brief; economy of words (and thought). A terse statement is not very informative. OTOH, conciseness is about packaging in a compact way, conveying all the information in whatever brevity that may be possible. – Kris Nov 2 '14 at 0:22
  • I agree that concise implies a comprehensiveness, similar to the way succinct does, but some definitions (including the Oxford English Dictionary, as quoted above) use concise and pithy in the definition. Putting that aside, even if the nuances between terse and concise are as you say, the examples given in the question would still be redundant. Unless the intended effect is to apply a connotation of rudeness or curtness to the conciseness, terse doesn't add anything that conciseness doesn't already have. Redundant. – tralston Nov 2 '14 at 5:57
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    terse expresses also the tone, the manner of the concision/conciseness. Terse (to me) is about being abrupt, verging on impoliteness, it has negative connotations whereas conciseness does not. As a result I don't consider the expression to be redundant. – Mari-Lou A Nov 2 '14 at 8:30
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Redundant? Almost completely.

These words overlap 90%, and the tiny 10% difference isn't really enough to avoid being redundant, even if a shred of difference is truly present. Redundancy is measured in degree of overlap versus the degree of separation.

Second problem: these words tug their connotations in opposite directions, which muddles the already tortured meaning.

Conclusion: zero style points for using these together. Their incomplete overlap is a technicality. They are redundant enough.

BTW: this is a great family of synonyms relating to bevity of language:

*) Terse is tense and possibly rude. Brief, yes, but not in a good way.

*) Succinct speaks lucidly. Brief, yet clear.

*) Concise contains a lot despite its small size. Brief, yet comprehensive.

*) Laconic is just brief; it doesn't hint at other virtues. Unlike terseness, its connotation is usually neutral, and it alone is useful among this synonym family for describing an individual's personality generally (versus their specific words).

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Is 'terse conciseness' redundant?

Yes, I think so.

Although it probably depends on how finicky you want to be about it. If I had to pick some differences, and at the risk of rephrasing what tralston already stated;

Brevity is surely a subset of both terse and concise, so terse brevity is almost certainly redundant.

With regards to terse conciseness; the two words seem to overlap but don't have identical meanings, so terse conciseness has a different meaning (or at least connotation) to either terse or concise.

Terse means brief and cut short, it has negative connotation as it is usually associated with rudeness.

Concise implies clarity and a sparse use of words to describe something succinctly. It tends to be used to describe positive traits.

I would interpret terse conciseness to mean a form that is short, with meaning conveyed but with a potentially negative demeanour.

Here are some examples to illustrate how I view the differences, in response to "what are you up to?"

  1. Terse "Stuff! Leave me alone."
  2. Concise "I am building a play-house and don't want to be distracted"
  3. Terse Conciseness "I am building a play-house. Leave me alone!"
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