If a text is short and concise at the same time, I would expect it to be referred to as ‘short and concise’, because concise implies short.

There are, however, quite a few occurrences of ‘short but concise’ and ‘short yet concise’ online. Is that kind of usage grammatical? What does it mean?

It sounds to me like ‘dark but black’, meaning ‘despite being dark it is black’, which does not make sense. (I’m not a native speaker.) Is there any reasoning behind ‘short yet concise’ that I’m missing?

P.S. Here is a random example (source).

Please provide a short yet concise brief overview of your project. e.g service required, web design, SEO, e-commerce etc, as well as your project objectives, goals, audience demographic, and potential budget.

  • 1
    Either ignorance or hyperbole.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 12:05
  • Your source is not necessarily a source of good English. It has used no less than four words to mean condensed writing: "a short yet concise brief overview." They mean a concise (compactly written) overview (summary). At least My Big Fat Greek Wedding was having fun with it. Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Your expectation that a short text should necessarily be concise is not shared by most native English speakers. Hence the definition of concise in the Oxford Dictionary online:

Giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive.

I have emphasized the ‘but’ in view of your remarks.

The default expectation is that the amount of information in a document/explanation/definition will be proportional to the number of words, and that if a text is shortened it will have proportionally less information. However any written text may contain material that is not essential to the meaning — examples, superfluous adjectives, personalization etc. Hence, the default expectation can be confounded if the abbreviated document maintains information content but removes inessential material.

Or, to put it more concisely than in the above paragraph:

Short does not necessarily mean concise

  • Thank you. That clarifies the things a little. For the record, I intended to say that if something is concise, then it is always short. If something is merely short, it is not always concise.
    – Till Ulen
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 11:12
  • @TillUlen — Sorry, I was focussing on your examples and hadn't read your question carefully enough. I suppose the reason for the phrase "short but concise" (popularly "short but sweet") is that the initial emphasis is on the "short", with the default expectation I mentioned. One would never say "concise but short", and "concise and short" would generally be regareded as poor style as concise does imply short (although the Concise Oxford Dictionary" is not short in absolute terms).
    – David
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 11:25
  • But "concise" means "short".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 12:04
  • @HotLicks — Not sure of your point. "Concise" includes "short" in its meaning, but doesn't mean it in the sense that the two words do not have identical meanings — are not interchangeable (viz dictionary definitions). If you were responding to my slightly frivolous comment about the Concise OD, you could either say the name is incorrect, or you could say it is more concise than the full version (i.e. used in a relative sense) or that the entries are short and concise (whereas those in line the OED are not concise because of listing historical examples).
    – David
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 12:28
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    They're not interchangeable, but "short" is redundant. Of course, as you hint, "concise" is often misapplied.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 12:32

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