verb elu·ci·date \ i-ˈlü-sə-ˌdāt \
|Updated on: 29 Jul 2018

Definition of elucidate

elucidated; elucidating
: to make lucid especially by explanation or analysis
  • elucidate a text
: to give a clarifying explanation


play \i-ˌlü-sə-ˈdā-shən\ noun


play \i-ˈlü-sə-ˌdā-tiv\ adjective


play \i-ˈlü-sə-ˌdā-tər\ noun

elucidate was our Word of the Day on 03/03/2018. Hear the podcast!

Examples of elucidate in a Sentence

  1. When asked for details, he declined to elucidate further.

  2. colored charts that really help to elucidate the points made in the text

Recent Examples of elucidate from the Web

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

Did You Know?

To "elucidate" is to make something clear that was formerly murky or confusing - and it is perfectly clear how the modern term got that meaning. "Elucidate" traces to the Latin term lucidus, which means "lucid." "Lucidus" in turn descends from the verb lucēre, meaning "to shine." So "elucidating" can be thought of as the figurative equivalent of shining a light on something to make it easier to see. "Lucēre" has also produced other shining offspring in English. Among its descendants are "lucid" itself (which can mean "shining," "clear-headed," or "easily understood"), "lucent" (meaning "giving off light" or "easily seen through"), and "translucent" (meaning "partly transparent" or "clear enough for light to pass through").

Origin and Etymology of elucidate

Late Latin elucidatus, past participle of elucidare, from Latin e- + lucidus lucid

Synonym Discussion of elucidate

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

ELUCIDATE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of elucidate for English Language Learners

  • : to make (something that is hard to understand) clear or easy to understand

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to oppose successfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!