Word Origin & History
late 13c., from L. brevis (adj.) "short, low, little, shallow," from PIE *mregh-wi-, from base *mregh-u- "short" (cf. Gk. brakhys "short," O.C.S. bruzeja "shallow places, shoals," Goth. gamaurgjan "to shorten").
from L. breve (gen. brevis), noun derivative of L. adj. brevis (see brief
(adj.)) which came to mean "letter, summary" (specifically a letter of the pope, less ample and solemn than a bull), and came to mean "letter of authority," which yielded the modern, legal sense of "summary
of the facts of a case" (1630s). The verb meaning "to give instructions or information to" (1866) was originally "to instruct by a brief" (1862); hence briefing, first attested 1910 but popularized by WWII pre-flight conferences.