What does explain mean?

Definitions for explain

Here are all the possible meanings 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.

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. Kyle Cornwell:

    I know it sounds crazy but I am going to keep doing it, the community has been more involved than I can explain. It’s hard to explain the feeling.

  2. Boerge Nordestgaard:

    You need doctors to understand when there is negative media to explain to patients the benefits of using this medication outweighing the negative effects they read about in the newspaper yesterday.

  3. Jamal Ware:

    Without access to the relevant electronic information and stored data on the server -- which was reportedly registered to her home -- there is no way the committee, or anyone else, can fully explain why the committee uncovered two email addresses.

  4. Tommy Thompson:

    It’s hard to explain the number of roadblocks, i don’t rest on my laurels; I’m working all the time here. It’s hard to communicate here.

  5. Malak Hassan:

    We were shocked ... Israel is trying to polish its image by hosting this race, the UAE and Bahrain know a lot about our cause and there was no need for us to explain to them why they shouldn't take part.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for explain

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    brought into agreement or cooperation on the side of a faction, party, or cause
    • A. aligned
    • B. handsome
    • C. witless
    • D. transparent

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