What does explain mean?

Definitions for explain

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word explain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. explain, explicateverb

    make plain and comprehensible

    "He explained the laws of physics to his students"

  2. explainverb


    "The committee explained their plan for fund-raising to the Dean"

  3. excuse, explainverb

    serve as a reason or cause or justification of

    "Your need to sleep late does not excuse your late arrival at work"; "Her recent divorce may explain her reluctance to date again"


  1. explainverb

    To give a sufficiently detailed report about (a) the reason for something, about why something happened, about a causal chain of events; about (b) how something works, about how elements in a system interact; about (c) how to do something, about the steps which need to be accomplished in order to accomplish a certain goal.

  2. explainverb

    To give a valid excuse for some past behavior.

  3. explainverb

    To make flat, smooth out.

  4. explainverb

    To unfold or make visible.

  5. Etymology: explanen, from explaner, from explanō, from ex- + planō, from planus; see plain and plane. Compare esplanade, splanade. Displaced native arecchen, irecchen (from areccan, gereccan).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To EXPLAINverb

    To expound; to illustrate; to clear by notes or commentaries.

    Etymology: explano, Latin.

    Such is the original design, however we may explain it away. John Ayliffe, Parergon.

    You will have variety of commentators to explain the difficult passages to you. John Gay.

    Some explain’d the meaning quite away. Alexander Pope.


  1. explain

    To explain means to make something clear, understandable, or comprehensible by providing information, details, or reasoning. It involves breaking down a concept, idea, process, or situation into simpler terms or steps in order to convey meaning or clarify any confusion. The purpose of explaining is to help others gain knowledge, insight, or a deeper understanding of a particular topic or issue.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Explainadjective

    to flatten; to spread out; to unfold; to expand

  2. Explainadjective

    to make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to expound; to unfold and illustrate the meaning of; as, to explain a chapter of the Bible

  3. Explainverb

    to give an explanation

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Explain

    eks-plān′, v.t. to make plain or intelligible: to unfold and illustrate the meaning of: to expound: to account for.—adj. Explain′able, that may be explained or cleared up.—ns. Explain′er, one who explains; Explanā′tion, act of explaining or clearing from obscurity: that which explains or clears up: the meaning or sense given to anything: a mutual clearing up of matters.—adv. Explan′atorily.—adj. Explan′atory, serving to explain or clear up: containing explanations.—Explain away, to modify the force of by explanation, generally in a bad sense. [O. Fr. explaner—L. explanāreex, out, planāreplanus, plain.]

Editors Contribution

  1. explain

    To use words to provide data, detail, an answer, response, proof or information.

    The government are asked to explain the reason for their efficient and effective increase in revenue.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 14, 2020  

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'explain' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1356

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'explain' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1107

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'explain' in Verbs Frequency: #119

How to pronounce explain?

How to say explain in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of explain in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of explain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of explain in a Sentence

  1. Janice Dean:

    You might want explain this tweet a little better to those of us whove actually had to face predators in our own homes and defend ourselves without a big strong man like yourself, you are right. No offense intended. Too short on Twitter. Only in Americaare we still debating the legitimate right to protect oneself like you and many others vs sensible way to keep guns from wrong people. Only here can we not address the issues around school shootings in a way that respects the ill and also people who get guns legally (as I did) and use responsibly (as I).

  2. Al Pacino:

    It’s hard to explain in today’s world — to explain who I was at that time and the bolt of lightning that it was, i felt like, all of a sudden, some veil was lifted and all eyes were on me. Of course, they were on others in the film. But ‘ The Godfather ’ gave me a new identity that was hard for me to cope with.

  3. Miguel Cardenal:

    It's something Angel Maria Villar needs to explain Angel Maria Villar, nobody can give an opinion in Angel Maria Villar name, and I think it would be a good thing if Angel Maria Villar did so.

  4. Cary Summers:

    Benjamin Franklin wrote. I firmly believe... without Benjamin Franklin concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel, a reference to the Old Testament biblical story that didn't end well for the builders. The museum also showcases the Bible’s influence on world history, culture, science, art and literature. One section of the museum is devoted to the Bible in America, its influence on presidents and the Founding Fathers like Benjamin Franklin, who quoted the Bible's book to explain the importance of the country's founders to abide by the book's wisdom. Cary Summers said it's important people have information about a book that has had such tremendous impact on the Western world. And it will be presented, warts and all, of how people used – and abused – its precepts. One of the goals of the museum is to put Gutenberg Bible back in the center of conversation.

  5. Kanye West:

    I might be president one day, i might be in that situation where it's harder for me to explain to the masses why something isn't happening that they feel the concept of a president should be able to fix.

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Translations for explain

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"explain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 4 Mar. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/explain>.

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    directed outward; marked by interest in others or concerned with external reality
    • A. proprietary
    • B. tacky
    • C. extroversive
    • D. ectomorphic

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