Definition and background:
The modern term for brevis. From 13th century mensural notation, the breve indicates a note of the shortest duration.See brevis. In modern notation, the breve is the British and Italian terms for double whole note. See also [Am.] Double whole note, [Fr.] Double-ronde, [Ger.] Doppelganze, [Ger.] Doppelganzenote, [It.] Breve, [Sp.] Cuadrada, [Sp.] Doble Redonda. originally the standard musical note, but has come to be the longest. this is because longer notes have fallen out of use and shorter ones have been introduced. the time value of the breve is equivalent to two semibreves
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary