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What does 'brevity is the soul of wit' mean?

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2014-03-07 18:51:00
2014-03-07 18:51:00
Brevity is the Soul of WitThe proverb 'brevity is the soul of wit' means that articulate and intelligent communication (speech and writing) should use few and wisely chosen words. It is associated with the play 'Hamlet,' by William Shakespeare.

In Shakespeare's day, 'wit' principally referred to intelligence, and the essence or soul of being intelligent is to convey your thoughts as briefly and efficiently as possible. Here is the context of the line:

LORD POLONIUS

This business is well ended.

My liege, and madam, to expostulate

What majesty should be, what duty is,

Why day is day, night night, and time is time,

Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

I will be brief: your noble son is mad:

Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,

What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

But let that go.

(The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Act 2, scene 2.)

It should also be noted that this phrase is very ironic in the context of the play, as Polonius is anything but brief in his long speeches.

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It means someone misheard the quotation, which is actually "brevity is the soul of wit."


"Brevity is the soul of wit" comes from William Shakespeare's Hamlet (act II, scene ii).


"Brevity is the soul of wit" is a line from Hamlet, Act 2. It is said by Polonius, and it is ironic because although Polonius is saying that brevity is a virtue, it appears to be a virtue he does not posess. He is incapable of brevity, which by his maxim means he has very little wit.


The character who says it is long winded.



The quotation is this:Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,I will be brief.It comes from the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, and is spoken by the character Polonius.


"Brevity is the soul of wit" is from Lord Polonious' speech in Shakespeare's Hamlet, in Act II, scene ii.


"Brevity is the soul of wit" is from Lord Polonious' speech in Shakespeare's Hamlet, in Act II, scene ii.




"Brevity is the soul of wit," and "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" are different quotations from Shakespeare's plays


It is self-explanatory. "Brevity" means terseness, saying things with few words. "Wit" is intelligent and clever use of language, although it can also mean just plain intelligence. Saying that something is the soul of something is the same as saying that it is at the heart of that thing, or that it is the essence of that thing. So, the saying could be rephrased (with a less satisfactory rhythm) as "brevity is at the heart of wit" or "brevity is the essence of wit". Therefore what it means is that if you want to speak intelligently you should use just as many words as you need and no more. Of course it says that much more briefly and therefore more intelligently. The irony is that the guy who says this line, Polonius in Hamlet, is notoriously neither brief nor witty.


"Brevity is the soul of wit". It is a quotation from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Removing the vowels is a joke, because it makes the sentence shorter. ('Brevity' is the noun from 'brief' = short).


Hamlet.Polonius says;"My liege, and madam, to expostulateWhat majesty should be, what duty is,What day is day, night night, and time is time,Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .


This is a joke based upon the quote "brevity is the soul of wit" meaning that you must be succinct in order to communicate effectively. Brief lingerie is more revealing; short nightgowns leave more leg exposed. So, that is a humorously lascivious remark.


Polonius says it in Act 2 of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The irony is that Polonius is a windbag to whom brevity is unknown. The person he is speaking to, Gertrude, is the mistress of the terse remark. Her comment: "More matter with less art."


it means that conciseness forms intelligence, and he is known in the play to give long, rambling speeches, so it comes out as ironic.


Polonius says it. But it is ironic because at the time Polonius is being anything but brief. It is almost as if he cannot help drivelling on and on, even when he is trying to be pithy.


Polonius, in Act 2. It is ironic because Polonius is a long-winded blowhard, and the speech the quotation comes from is itself unnecessarily long.


"Brevity is the soul of wit" is a quotation from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2. It is said by the tedious counselor Polonius, who ironically is neither brief nor witty.The play is Hamlet, Act II, scene ii, line 90:Polonius:My liege, and madam, to expostulateWhat majesty should be, what duty is,What day is day, night night, and time is time,Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .The play 'Hamlet' contains this proverb, but Shakespeare also made other references to ephemerality outside of the context of concise expression and more within the sense of human lives in other plays; the sense of 'brevity' in 'The Tempest' could make an interesting comparison with the more light-hearted sense of this proverb in 'Hamlet.'


If you wish to write persuasively, include relevant facts and logical arguments. Also, be succinct; try to pack the most meaning possible into the fewest number of words. Brevity is the soul of wit.


Probably never! Who is Polarius?? This quote is attributed to Polonius in Hamlet.


If you mean how to say in layman terms of the English of today, I think something like 'keep it short' should suffice. It's all about simplicity and lucidity now. But most of the people now go with 'cut the crap' or something equally offensive.


It seems pretty self explanatory. Brevity means brief or short, and wit means intelligence. It's kind of like Oakum's Razor. The simplest is the best.


As few as one, but there is no upper limit. It is important to keep in mind though that the title does not carry the weight of the work, so let it do its job and move on. That is, don't linger over a lengthy title. Brevity is after all the soul of wit.



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