verb in·ter·pret \in-ˈtər-prət, -pət\

: to explain the meaning of (something)

: to understand (something) in a specified way

: to perform (something, such as a song or a role) in a way that shows your own thoughts and feelings about it

Full Definition of INTERPRET

transitive verb
:  to explain or tell the meaning of :  present in understandable terms <interpret dreams> <needed help interpreting the results>
:  to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance :  construe <interpret a contract>
:  to represent by means of art :  bring to realization by performance or direction <interprets a role>
intransitive verb
:  to act as an interpreter between speakers of different languages
in·ter·pret·abil·i·ty \-ˌtər-prə-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē, -pə-tə-\ noun
in·ter·pret·able \-ˈtər-prə-tə-bəl, -pə-tə-\ adjective

Examples of INTERPRET

  1. We need someone to interpret these results for us.
  2. How should we interpret the law?
  3. I interpreted his behavior to mean that he disliked me.
  4. Every actor interprets the role of Hamlet a little differently.


Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French interpreter, from Latin interpretari, from interpret-, interpres agent, negotiator, interpreter
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of INTERPRET

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>.
INTERPRETABLE Defined for Kids


verb in·ter·pret \in-ˈtər-prət\

Definition of INTERPRET for Kids

:  to explain the meaning of <She claims to interpret dreams.>
:  to understand in a particular way <He interpreted Cluny's order as the much-coveted promotion to second-in-command. — Brian Jacques, Redwall>
:  to bring out the meaning of <An actor interprets a role.>


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