What does the idiom "short and sweet" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does short and sweet mean? In what situations is short and sweet used?

Meaning of "short and sweet"


The idiom 'short and sweet' is commonly used to describe something that is brief, yet effective or satisfying. It is often used to express an appreciation for something that is concise and to the point, while still successfully delivering what it set out to do.


The idiom 'short and sweet' dates back to the 16th century. It was first recorded in 1599 in a play by William Shakespeare entitled As You Like It, and it has been used as a popular saying ever since. The phrase has been used in a variety of contexts throughout the centuries and has come to mean something that is brief yet effective.


The phrase 'short and sweet' is generally used in a positive way and to refer to something that was concise, yet still accomplished what was intended. It can also be used to describe an event that was brief and well-planned, or a brief expression that was successful in conveying what was meant. It is often used as a phrase of appreciation or to express admiration for something that is short and to the point.

Example Sentences

  • The lecture was short and sweet – it was only 30 minutes and I learned a lot.
  • We managed to keep the meeting short and sweet so we had plenty of time for other activities.
  • My grandmother's card was short and sweet, but it made me feel really special.

The meanings of the words in the "short and sweet" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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