“Ernest Hemingway is the writer perhaps most famous for his pithy writing style.”

According to what’s shown above, what is the best definition of pithy?

Check your answer!

Choice A - Confusing or misleading but not deliberately so
Choice B - Hilariously entertaining in language or style
Choice C - Verbose or circuitous in language
Choice D - Concise and to the point but full of meaning


Pithy (adjective) – concise and to the point while still being clever, persuasive, or otherwise full of meaning (or full of pith)

Pith (noun) – the core or essence of something; significant weight or substance; or, the spongy interior of a plant

GRE pro tips:

In plants, the “pith” refers to the spongy interior substance that helps transport nutrients and holds water. Similarly, if an argument or writing has pith, then it both has substance and holds water. The related adjective pithy describes writing and speech that has pith. So, pithy language is full of substance — it may be clever or persuasive – while still concise, or to the point. Pithy is the opposite of other common GRE words that refer to someone using more words than necessary: Words like circuitous, prolix, and verbose indicate excess wordiness that detracts from the power and clarity of writing or speech.

The writer who is perhaps most famous for pithy writing is Earnest Hemingway. His advice to F. Scott Fitzgerald was to “write the best story and write it as straight as you can.”

Example sentences:

“The speech was short but passionate and pithy in expression.”

“Whereas his first book was a silly schoolgirl romance, his latest novel had surprisingly pith.”