Brevity is the Soul of Wit Examples
The line "brevity is the soul of wit" is from Shakespeare's Hamlet and was spoken by 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.
In this speech, Polonius is telling the king and queen that it does not do any good to go on and on in trying to figure out what is wrong with Hamlet. He comes straight to the point and tells them that Hamlet is "mad," or crazy.
Brevity is the soul of wit simply means that a brief answer is the essence of wisdom-or a straightforward answer is the essence of wisdom.
People continue to use this phrase today in modern language. It is often used in response to endless chattering-someone may sarcastically remark that "brevity is the soul of wit" in an effort to get someone else to stop talking.
Brevity is the soul of wit is also used as a rule of thumb for speeches, especially political speeches. Someone who is long-winded will not hold the attention of an audience for very long. The rule of thumb is that a speaker should cut to the chase, or get to the point, and that is the wise thing to do. Some public speakers will even use this exact phrase in their speech to signal that the speech is drawing to a close.
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