elu·​ci·​date i-ˈlü-sə-ˌdāt How to pronounce elucidate (audio)
elucidated; elucidating

transitive verb

: to make lucid especially by explanation or analysis
elucidate a text

intransitive verb

: to give a clarifying explanation
elucidation noun
elucidative adjective

Did you know?

Elucidate comes from the Latin term lucidus, which means "lucid." Lucidus, in turn, comes 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.

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Example Sentences

When asked for details, he declined to elucidate further. colored charts that really help to elucidate the points made in the text
Recent Examples on the Web Philosophers and writers have spilled countless barrels of ink attempting to elucidate the origins of happiness. Carl Engelking, Discover Magazine, 6 Aug. 2014 Your partner could support you by avoiding behaviors that elucidate your anxiety or trigger you. Elizabeth Ayoola, Essence, 27 Dec. 2022 Studying these exceptional hunters provides key insights into how toxins work at the molecular level, which can help determine effective treatments or even elucidate useful pharmaceuticals in addition to revealing how venom resistance evolves. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 31 Aug. 2017 In addition, several cell-sized room installations will elucidate aspects of confinement. La Risa R. Lynch, Journal Sentinel, 19 Jan. 2023 Shyer and Rodrigues hope that their work and future investigations will help elucidate the role of physics and its interplay with chemicals and genes during development. Quanta Magazine, 12 July 2022 Climate response time is one of the important 'details' that climate models help to elucidate. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 21 July 2011 Since 1955, the National Review mission has been to identify, elucidate, and defend the incandescent ideas of self-government under a Constitution that limits the power of the state and enhances the freedom of every citizen. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 30 Dec. 2022 That work has revealed unique features of the human nervous system at the single neuron level, helping elucidate why pain relief solutions in animal models work infrequently in people. Stephen Fontenot, Dallas News, 8 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1568, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of elucidate was circa 1568


Dictionary Entries Near elucidate

Cite this Entry

“Elucidate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elucidate. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


elu·​ci·​date i-ˈlü-sə-ˌdāt How to pronounce elucidate (audio)
elucidated; elucidating
: to make clear or plain : explain
elucidation noun
elucidative adjective
elucidator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on elucidate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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