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verb ex·plain \ik-ˈsplān\

Simple Definition of explain

  • : to make (something) clear or easy to understand

  • : to tell, show, or be the reason for or cause of something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of explain

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to make known <explain the secret of your success> b :  to make plain or understandable <footnotes that explain the terms>

  3. 2 :  to give the reason for or cause of <unable to explain his strange conduct>

  4. 3 :  to show the logical development or relationships of <explained the new theory>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to make something plain or understandable <a report that suggests rather than explains>


play \-ˈsplā-nə-bəl\ adjective



explain oneself

  1. :  to clarify one's statements or the reasons for one's conduct

Examples of explain in a sentence

  1. I need a lawyer to explain this contract to me.

  2. The professor explained the poem to the class.

  3. She explained how the machine worked.

  4. I explained to them that I would be available by phone.

  5. Scientists could not explain the strange lights in the sky.

  6. I don't know how to explain the dog's strange behavior.

  7. We asked him to explain his reasons to us.

  8. Can you explain why no one was informed earlier?

  9. That explains why we we're so far behind schedule.

  10. Give me a chance to explain.

Origin and Etymology of explain

Middle English explanen, from Latin explanare, literally, to make level, from ex- + planus level, flat — more at floor

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of explain

explain, expound, explicate, elucidate, interpret mean to make something clear or understandable. explain implies a making plain or intelligible what is not immediately obvious or entirely known <explain the rules>. expound implies a careful often elaborate explanation <expounding a scientific theory>. explicate adds the idea of a developed or detailed analysis <explicate a poem>. elucidate stresses the throwing of light upon as by offering details or motives previously unclear or only implicit <elucidate an obscure passage>. interpret adds to explain the need for imagination or sympathy or special knowledge in dealing with something <interpreting a work of art>.

EXPLAIN Defined for Kids


verb ex·plain \ik-ˈsplān\

Definition of explain for Students



  1. 1 :  to make clear :  clarify <Let me explain how it works.>

  2. 2 :  to give the reasons for or cause of <Please explain why you're late.>

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a sculptured or ornamented band

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