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


clear, distill (also distil), filter, fine, garble, purify

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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

Morgan spoke to reporters Friday, clarifying the source of the goal celebration and referencing the ‘‘Game of Thrones’’ actress., "Lindsey Horan hopes NWSL gets a kick-start," 5 July 2019 Six people aged 20 to 72 were arrested on Sunday, when a pro-police rally was held, although police did not clarify whether those arrested were involved in the rally. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Hong Kong protests: Dramatic images of destruction draw both criticism and support," 4 July 2019 Her other trick is to cook the chicken in ghee, which is clarified butter. NBC News, "9 foolproof and delicious recipes for boneless, skinless chicken breasts," 30 June 2019 American Legion is no picture of judicial consensus: in additional to the plurality opinion six justices wrote separately to dissent or clarify their views. S.m. | New York, The Economist, "The Supreme Court blesses a cross-shaped war memorial in Maryland," 20 June 2019 Still, Thomas was disappointed that his colleagues didn’t adequately clarify what standard should be used in future cases like this one, snubbing Alito’s opinion even while supporting his decision. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "SCOTUS says the Christian cross has “secular” meaning, citing Notre Dame in France," 20 June 2019 First, collectors can immediately identify material that doesn’t belong and leave it in the curbside bin (along with a cheerful pink sticky note clarifying why the materials weren’t taken). Dennis Pillion |,, "How does recycling work in your city? A look at the five largest in Alabama," 18 June 2019 Great chunks will have fallen into oblivion, while others will have returned clarified from the pool. Lewis Hyde, Harper's magazine, "Ars Oblivionalis," 10 June 2019 The governor's office appealed, but as the case was transferred to the Supreme Court, the legislature passed a law that overhauled the Louisville board's makeup and clarified the trustee appointment process. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "In the fierce campaign for governor, Beshear may be exaggerating his court wins over Bevin," 22 May 2019

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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Statistics for clarify

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for clarify

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

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More Definitions for clarify



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

Comments on clarify

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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