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brief means short, in few words

detailed means having many details

Why are they antonyms? A detailed thing can be brief too. And a brief thing can also be detailed (concise)

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Let me ask you a question, do you think that few and many are antonyms? Those two words appear in your definitions for brief and detailed respectively. If you describe something briefly, usually you are going to use less words than if you explain it detailedly.

According to the Oxford Dictionary

brief

Concise in expression; using few words.

detailed

Having many details or facts; showing attention to detail.


We are talking here about brief as an adjective. A plan can be briefed [verb], explained detailedly, to the ones that have to execute it.

As verbs, I think that they are not exactly synonyms either.

According to the Oxford Dictionary

brief

Instruct or inform (someone) thoroughly, especially in preparation for a task.

detail

Give full information about

Notice that a briefing implies not only to give information, full or not, but to instruct someone. You have to explain the information given in order to accomplish a task.

  • as verbs they are synonyms? 😕 – user82515 Oct 1 '18 at 8:46
  • @user82287 Not exactly. I've updated my answer. – RubioRic Oct 1 '18 at 8:53
  • why did you use either after not exactly synonyms either. wouldn't either make an implication that I'd asked are brief and detailed synonyms (as adjective) – user82515 Oct 1 '18 at 9:10
  • @user82287 I mean: "brief and detailed are not synonyms as adjectives and they are not synonyms as verbs either". – RubioRic Oct 1 '18 at 9:15
  • Sorry dude I'm not sure this is right, certainly a little confusing. The OP is talking strictly about the adjectives. I see you acknowledge that but getting into the verbs is just confusing. – Astralbee Oct 1 '18 at 9:17
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When you say:

"A detailed thing can be brief too."

You are technically correct, although it would be highly unusual to describe something as "detailed and brief". It sounds contradictory. The correct way to describe something like that would be either as as succinct or concise. But these don't necessarily mean "short" either. They mean that a piece contains only necessary information. A lengthy document could be described as "concise" if it contains only what is necessary and explains each point in the most concise manner. When something is short as well as concise people tend to say "brief and to the point".

You couldn't say that everything that is brief is also detailed, and so I agree with the statement that "brief" and "detailed" are antonyms. In isolation they do imply the opposite - "brief" means that something is notably short, whereas "detailed" means that it includes a lot of information.

Likewise "concise" would be the antonym of "wordy", or "long-winded".

  • after putting more thought on it I think neither a detailed thing can be brief nor vice versa. And even if something is concise it would mean that it has the main facts(details) about that particular thing in brief. but detailed means having many details (whether important or less important). So I was wrong – user82515 Oct 1 '18 at 9:46

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