clar·​i·​fy | \ ˈkler-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce clarify (audio) , ˈkla-rə- \
clarified; clarifying

Definition of clarify

transitive verb

1 : to make understandable clarify a subject The president was forced to clarify his position on the issue.
2 : to free of confusion needs time to clarify his thoughts
3 : to make (a liquid or something liquefied) clear or pure usually by freeing from suspended matter clarify syrup

intransitive verb

: to become clear waiting for the present muddled diplomatic situation to clarifyNewsweek

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Other Words from clarify

clarification \ ˌkler-​ə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce clarification (audio) , ˌkla-​rə-​ \ noun
clarifier \ ˈkler-​ə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce clarifier (audio) , ˈkla-​rə-​ \ noun

Synonyms for clarify


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Examples of clarify in a Sentence

Can you clarify exactly what it is you're proposing? Her explanation did not clarify matters much. The president was forced to clarify his position on the issue. The committee clarified the manager's duties. a substance used to clarify wine
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Recent Examples on the Web The meaning of the story is thus clarified: not to pass a judgment on the rightness or wrongness of the actions, but to be provoked by them, to feel awe, dread, dismay, and wonder at the transformation of respectable virtue into terrorism. Christine Smallwood, Harper's Magazine, "Through Clenched Teeth," 30 Mar. 2020 But Wohlstetter’s framework still helps clarify the chain of events that has placed the United States in such an unprecedented strategic situation. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The ‘Slow Pearl Harbors’ of the Coronavirus Crisis," 23 Mar. 2020 Michigan's labor department tried this week to help clarify what small businesses should do to help their workers collect unemployment benefits while the world tries to rebound from coronavirus. Meredith Spelbring, Detroit Free Press, "Layoff or leave? Small businesses grapple with what to do with employees," 21 Mar. 2020 While Warren's future is unclear, Tuesday's round of voting helped clarify that the Democratic Party's presidential field, which featured more than a half-dozen candidates a week ago, had turned into a two-man contest. Steve Peoples, Anchorage Daily News, "Bloomberg drops out of presidential race, endorses Biden; Warren reassessing campaign," 4 Mar. 2020 His win helped clarify the top of the heavyweight division, though, which will be sorted out further when Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr. meet Dec. 7 in their title rematch in Saudi Arabia. Tim Dahlberg, The Denver Post, "Deontay Wilder stops Luis Ortiz in heavyweight boxing title rematch," 24 Nov. 2019 Officials and Google later clarified that the site would first be rolled out in a small California region. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Coronavirus screening website promised by White House goes live for 2 California counties," 16 Mar. 2020 Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli issued a statement afterwards clarifying that U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and their family members were exempt. Mallory Moench,, "Trump’s Europe ban slams Bay Area airports, stocks, travelers," 12 Mar. 2020 The coronavirus crisis, in this way, has been clarifying about what people need to survive, pandemic or not: clean water, paid time off, equal access to housing, safe public accommodations. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "A Better World Is Possible Without a Pandemic," 12 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clarify.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clarify

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

History and Etymology for clarify

Middle English clarifien, from Anglo-French clarifier, from Late Latin clarificare, from Latin clarus clear — more at clear

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Time Traveler for clarify

Time Traveler

The first known use of clarify was in the 14th century

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Statistics for clarify

Last Updated

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clarify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for clarify


How to pronounce clarify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clarify

: to make (something) easier to understand
: to make (a liquid) purer or easier to see through


clar·​i·​fy | \ ˈkler-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce clarify (audio) \
clarified; clarifying

Kids Definition of clarify

1 : to make or to become pure or clear clarify a liquid
2 : to make or become more easily understood clarify a statement


clar·​i·​fy | \ ˈklar-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce clarify (audio) \
clarified; clarifying

Medical Definition of clarify

transitive verb

: to make (as a liquid) clear or pure usually by freeing from suspended matter clarify sewage

intransitive verb

: to become clear

Other Words from clarify

clarification \ ˌklar-​ə-​fə-​ˈkā-​shən How to pronounce clarification (audio) \ noun
clarifier \ ˈklar-​ə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce clarifier (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on clarify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clarify

Spanish Central: Translation of clarify

Nglish: Translation of clarify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clarify for Arabic Speakers

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