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verb in·ter·pret \in-ˈtər-prət, -pət\

Simple Definition of interpret

  • : 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

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of interpret

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to explain or tell the meaning of :  present in understandable terms <interpret dreams> <needed help interpreting the results>

  3. 2 :  to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance :  construe <interpret a contract>

  4. 3 :  to represent by means of art :  bring to realization by performance or direction <interprets a role>

  5. intransitive verb
  6. :  to act as an interpreter between speakers of different languages

interpretability play \-ˌtər-prə-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē, -pə-tə-\ noun
interpretable play \-ˈtər-prə-tə-bəl, -pə-tə-\ adjective

Examples of interpret in a sentence

  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.

Origin of interpret

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>.

INTERPRET Defined for Kids


verb in·ter·pret \in-ˈtər-prət\

Definition of interpret for Students


  1. 1 :  to explain the meaning of <She claims to interpret dreams.>

  2. 2 :  to understand in a particular way <He interpreted Cluny's order as the much-coveted promotion to second-in-command. — Brian Jacques, Redwall>

  3. 3 :  to bring out the meaning of <An actor interprets a role.>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb in·ter·pret \in-ˈtər-prət\

Legal Definition of interpret

  1. :  to explain or tell the meaning of (as a document) especially in order to determine intent <they must interpret the provisions of the Constitution — L. H. Tribe>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up interpret? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a timid, meek, or unassertive person

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