1. A note or character of time, equivalent to two semibreves or four minims. When dotted, it is equal to three semibreves. It was formerly of a square figure (as thus:), but is now made oval, with a line perpendicular to the staff on each of its sides; formerly much used for choir service.

2. Any writ or precept under seal, issued out of any court.

3. A curved mark [<su:breve/] used commonly to indicate the short quantity of a vowel.

4. <zoology> The great ant thrush of Sumatra (Pitta gigas), which has a very short tail.

Origin: It. & (in sense 2) LL. Breve, fr. L. Brevis short. See Brief.

(01 Mar 1998)

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