From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Usage: An abridgment is made by omitting the less important parts of some larger work; as, an abridgment of a dictionary. A compendium is a brief exhibition of a subject, or science, for common use; as, a compendium of American literature. An epitome corresponds to a compendium, and gives briefly the most material points of a subject; as, an epitome of history. An abstract is a brief statement of a thing in its main points. A synopsis is a bird's-eye view of a subject, or work, in its several parts.
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
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