Pronunciation key

( iks-plān )
( ik-splān )



[ME explanen < L. explanare to flatten, spread out; ex-, out + planare, to make level < planus clear, level, plain; sp. influenced by plain].

  1. To make comprehensible; clear, plain, understandable.
  2. Expound; to define by providing meaning or interpretation. "She explained the company's plan for expansion."
  3. To give justification behind a cause, make account for; stating reasons for such as explaining an error.


  1. To provide an explanation,
    • To explain away. To minimize. To dismiss or rid one self of an issue by explaining, to state reasons for so as to justify or make understandable.
    • explain oneself,
  2. To make clear what one means.
  3. To give reasons justifying one's conduct.

Syn. These verbs mean to make the nature or meaning of something clear. Explain has the fewest special implications and suggests making clear and intelligible of some thing that is unknown or understood (such as how a car operates). Expound and Explicate imply typically studious and lengthy exploration which provides a systematic and thorough explanation, often one made by a person having expert knowledge such as expounding on a theory. Explicate suggests a scholarly analysis or exposition that is developed in detail such as explication of a Biblical passage. Elucidate suggests throwing light some way on a complex issue by clear and specific explanation, illustration, etc., such as elucidate a bank's policy on interest rates. Interpret implies bringing out meanings which are not immediately apparent, such as by foreign language translation, or searching insight or special knowledge into a more complex subject such as How do we interpret his body language? Construe implies a particular interpretation of something whose meaning is ambiguous and attempts to put a construction or interpretation on something such as Construe a smile as a sign of approval.

—ex•plain′a•ble adj.


  • Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition) ©1955
  • The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition ©1985
  • Further Reading

  • explanation
  • explanative
  • explanatorily
  • explanatory
  • No comments:

    Post a Comment