I was wondering what the correct word would be for a sentence that is tightly packed with meaning. For example, a good aphorism. An aphorism is short, but has a lot of meaning behind it and requires considerable thought in order to understand it.

I thought of the word dense (as in "this is a very dense passage that takes some time to understand"). But in my mind, dense implies that its more technical and difficult to read. I'm trying to describe a simple passage that has a lot of meaning behind it. For example, a passage like this:

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. (The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde)

Edit: Just for more context. I sent the preface of The Picture of Dorian Grey to a friend, he quickly read it and said that he didn't understand it, and I said "you have to think about it, that page is really dense." I need a word to replace dense in that context.

  • Perhaps “thought-provoking” or “deep”
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:33
  • "pearls of wisdom"?
    – NVZ
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:34

7 Answers 7


Meaty, perhaps?

meaty adjective (INTERESTING)

having a lot of important or interesting ideas:

  • a meaty book/letter/report
  • She has written some wonderfully meaty parts for older actresses.

Cambridge Dictionary

See also: Power Thesaurus: full of meaning

  • 1
    Maybe Terse? Not sure if terse has a different connotation though. Doesn't sound right to me.
    – bugsyb
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:37
  • Terse just means short (or abrupt), i.e. using the fewest possible words. It gives no indication of how meaningful a statement is.
    – Mick
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:39
  • Really, you are probably better off using packed with meaning, crammed with meaning, full of meaning, etc.
    – Mick
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 17:41


"you have to think about it, that page is really deep (or thought-provoking)."

2.2 Profound or penetrating in awareness or understanding
2.3 Difficult to understand: "this is all getting too deep for me"


making you think a lot about a subject: "a thought-provoking book/film"


Many good answers here. In some situations the word you might be looking for is:



Adjective[edit] nuanced ‎(comparative more nuanced, superlative most nuanced)

Having nuances;

possessed of multiple layers of detail, pattern, or meaning

The setting sunlight played through the gently waving branches, creating subtly nuanced transitions of color and tone as the shadows swept back and forth in the rosy glow.


Sounds like a profound sentence.


profound ADJECTIVE
2 (of a person or statement) having or showing great knowledge or insight

‘The answer by one student was so profound that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.’


you might be looking for the word overloaded:

adj. of a word, having multiple meanings depending on context

or you can use polysemantic,

Having multiple meanings.

or polysemic,

(linguistics) Having a number of meanings, interpretations or understandings.

or polysemous:

(linguistics) Having multiple meanings or interpretations.



  1. any witty, ingenious, or pointed saying tersely expressed.
  2. epigrammatic expression: Oscar Wilde had a genius for epigram.
  3. a short, often satirical poem dealing concisely with a single subject and usually ending with a witty or ingenious turn of thought.

Or, pearls of wisdom perhaps. — TFD

an important piece of advice

Usage notes: This phrase is usually used humorously to mean the opposite.
"Thank you for that pearl of wisdom, Jerry. Now do you think you could suggest something more useful?"


I think I found an answer to my own question:

Pithy adjective

brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning

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