I'm the person who like concise, and don't like the literature style stuffing in lots of irrelevant information to distract you from the main idea. So when I saw a book called "No bullshit Java", I know that's exactly the kind of writing style I prefer, both reading and writing.

However, that "No bullshit" is kind of stronger than my tolerance. Is there a better phrase that can convey the idea that I don't like those "bullshit", but not as strong?

Example usage:

I read a very useful blog, but there are so many distraction there that it is very easy to miss a step. So I'm documenting it again in my (no-)____ style.

PS. I know I can use the word "concise", but I do want it to be more vivid than that, but not as colorful as "No bullshit". :-)

  • Maybe "no bull"? Feb 21, 2016 at 18:56
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    "Concise" and "no bullshit" are not opposites. "Concise" means using a small number of words to express an idea; "no bullshit" means that the description is accurate, as well as that it doesn't contain unnecessary things. So, for example, I could write a perfectly concise explanation of how the world is flat, but it would be total bullshit. Feb 21, 2016 at 20:55
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    @Dav Bullshit can be the opposite of concise. Sense 2. Merriam-Webster is discursive. And that's what we'd expect the title of the book mentioned to mean: Doubtfully that other books on Java contain lies/inaccuracies. More likely that they contain fluff while this one provides what's essential. Feb 22, 2016 at 0:21
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    @JimReynolds I agree that I should have said that "concise" and "no bullshit" are not necessarily opposites. And I've read plenty of programming books that contain things that were inadvisable or even flat-out wrong, so I'd interpret "no bullshit" to mean both "no fluff" and "no garbage" in this context. Feb 22, 2016 at 1:50
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    "to-the-point" perhaps?
    – snoram
    Feb 22, 2016 at 11:43

10 Answers 10


Phrases which you might be interested in are

to the point style
no frills style
no nonsense style
no sugar style ( sugar these days has a computer technical meaning of frivolous )
unsweetened style ( a play on sugar )

Concise only means short or compact and could still have sugar

  • 63
    No nonsense is the best (in my opinion) - it has nice alliteration as well.
    – minseong
    Feb 21, 2016 at 17:11
  • 1
    No nonsense is the closest synonym in UK English Feb 22, 2016 at 5:57
  • 4
    Not heard this "no sugar/unsweetened" phrase before, and not found any reference on google, got any examples?
    – weston
    Feb 22, 2016 at 6:45
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    In the context of programming, sugar is usually a positive term, e.g. syntactic sugar. I wouldn't say it means frivolous, which is more negative.
    – MooseBoys
    Feb 22, 2016 at 7:06
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    Once again - sugar in a technical computing sense is nothing to do with frivolousness.
    – Rob Grant
    Feb 23, 2016 at 12:04

Two common ways of communicating the same meaning in politer terms could be:

  • No nonsense style...
  • No fuss style ....

You could (at a pinch) say:

  • I'm documenting again without so much bull.

The latter leaves the listener/reader to mentally add the missing expletive.

  • 9
    "No nonsense" is an excellent suggestion. But I would say that "bull" is essentially the same register as "bullshit", in that the expletive is so strongly implied that omitting it doesn't make the statement any more polite. Feb 21, 2016 at 20:58
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    @DavidRicherby Or as Louis CK would say, you're actually making the statement less polite, since you're putting the burden of creating the expletive on the listener. :-) In general though it saddens me that we have a culture where a word describing poop is "bad" (or TBH that "expletives" exist in general).
    – The111
    Feb 21, 2016 at 21:52
  • @The If there was no expletive, we would have created one. Feb 22, 2016 at 0:13
  • @The111: I think it's great. It would be extremely tedious if every word had equal "weight". If "expletives" weren't "expletives" then I guarantee they wouldn't be used as often — surely the whole point of using the worst ones is that it gives a sort of emotional satisfaction at a time when you need it the most? Otherwise we might as well just drop all the synonyms of things :) Feb 22, 2016 at 1:19

In addition to the very good suggestions from the earlier answers (no nonsense being my favorite), I'd suggest the simple

  • essential
  • direct
  • straight
  • plain
  • compact.

Essential is actually not uncommon in computer literature titles ("Essential Java"), but it goes beyond style; while one would certainly expect no poetry in such a book, it is additionally a statement about the (limited) scope.

I'm not sure whether straight may make some silly highschool students think of sexual orientation: "Straight Java as opposed to what? Queer Java?"

I find plain pretty nice because of the usual context in which it is used (plain talk, plain truth) but it may be too much of an understatement.

J.R.'s comment distilled is also interesting (and O'Reilly's famous "in a Nutshell" series means basically that, even though "in a Shot Glass" would fit "distilled" better).

Compact was inspired by J.R.'s distilled. Short form usually implies "no frills".

Another line of thought focuses on the dishonesty implied when calling something "bullshit". Often a user (let alone buyer) feels betrayed. There are words which focus on that aspect:

  • honest
  • genuine

Yet another aspect of bullshit is the lack in usability, leading to a few other options:

  • high-impact
  • valuable, high-value, value-generating etc.
  • indispensible

These focus more on contents than on style or intent, but in order to be important the amount of irrelevant or wrong information must be pretty limited.

  • Beyond being an understatement, "plain" might suggest "basic" but a definite +1 for the other suggestions. Feb 22, 2016 at 5:42
  • Your suggestions remind me of another word I've frequently seen in computer science: distilled (although the word distilled is usually positioned AFTER the word it modifies, as in this blog post).
    – J.R.
    Feb 23, 2016 at 21:24

There are many synonyms you could use, but I would suggest:

  • no baloney

  • no hot air - this ons is more colourful, and might fit because it means:

Empty talk that is intended to impress

(from ODO, emph. mine).

Since you are trying to convey that there are no unnecessary words that serve no real purpose (i.e. empty talk) I would go for this one.

Aside: you might find this ELU post interesting: What is the source of the phrase “phony baloney”?

  • 1
    Just a comment that "baloney" is quite (North?) American. Feb 22, 2016 at 3:33

"Forthright" seems to fit in your sample sentence. partial def - adjective 1. (of a person or their manner or speech) direct and outspoken; straightforward and honest.


If you are looking for something that is still informal but not as crude, I would go with

Straight Dope - n. the plain, unvarnished truth


First, what does "no bullshit" mean? Honest and direct.

No nonsense seems good, but doesn't really convey the lack of deception.

No bull is a great version, because it can be short for euphemisms like "bulldust".

Depending on whether the phrase needs to fit into the same sentence, "____ Java", then these might work:

  • No kidding
  • No mucking around
  • No joke
  • Straight up

Not a native speaker, but perhaps:

down to the nitty-gritty - reduced to the max, essentials only


For some reason, the answer with "short and sweet" got deleted. That might not be the "best" option, but it certainly works:

From the FreeDictionary:

Adj. 1. short and sweet - dealt with very quickly; to the point; "the conference was short and sweet"; "make your statement short and sweet"


Brief, clear writing can be called succinct (OED). It's a particularly good choice here because it's especially applicable to writing. You might even say it's the most... succinct... answer.

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