The family contains weevil-type beetles, sometimes with an elongated and cylindrical body. Many live in dead wood where they form bark-beetle-like galleries. However, the family also includes several important agricultural pests like the sweet potato weevil. The subfamily of Apioninae includes more than 2,000 species of plant feeding weevils. It is sometimes regarded as a separate family the Apionidae. They are pear-shaped and small, only a few mm long. The abdomen is broad and rounded while the pronotum is narrow with almost parallel sides.
The Brentidae are characterized by the structure of the rostrum which is a straight extension of the head and the family is also called "straight-snouted weevils". The antennae are not elbowed like in other weevil families and often without a terminal club. Males and females can show considerable morphological differences. For example, females might have a long and thin rostrum which is short and compact in the males of the same species.
For biocontrol agents of weeds see the Brentidae (weed bioagents).
The following genera are currently entered under this family: