ex·​pla·​na·​tion | \ ˌek-splə-ˈnā-shən \

Definition of explanation

1 : the act or process of explaining
2 : something that explains gave no explanation

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Examples of explanation in a Sentence

The professor's explanation was that the poem is really a parody. an explanation of photosynthesis that most museum visitors will be able to understand

Recent Examples on the Web

Hans van Leeuwen, a retired professor of theoretical physics who has recently published a mathematical explanation of ice skating, said. Brian Resnick, Vox, "The surprising science of why ice is so slippery," 31 Jan. 2019 That film has been dinged by critics in part for its hamfisted determination to provide a myth-deflating explanation of every miniscule aspect of the iconic Han Solo character. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Game of Thrones," 9 June 2018 But when orders started going unfulfilled with no explanation, members became irked. Rose Minutaglio, Town & Country, "How Carola Jain, a Well-Connected New York Investor, Got Duped Into Funding the Fyre Festival," 26 Jan. 2019 Border searches of such devices have been on the rise since 2016, with no discernible explanation as to why. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Was your phone imaged by border agents? They may still have the data," 12 Dec. 2018 In Martin’s novella, the word comes from a myth humans learn from other aliens, but there’s no explanation for it here. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers asks whether humanity deserves to be saved," 29 Nov. 2018 Even with MainOne’s explanation, there was speculation that Monday’s 74-minute data hijacking might not have been an accident. Frank Bajak, The Seattle Times, "Nigerian ISP’s configuration error disrupted Google services," 14 Nov. 2018 Right now the verdict comes in about a minute from Amazon’s algorithms and a team of fashion experts, with a brief explanation. Elizabeth Holmes, Glamour, "How Artificial Intelligence Is Coming For Your Closet," 24 Oct. 2018 The photo of her sipping a drink during New York Fashion Week, which landed the spot of the 13th most liked pic on Instagram, was deleted from her grid with no explanation. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Selena Gomez is Taking a Break from Social Media…Again," 24 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'explanation.' 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 explanation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for explanation

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

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English Language Learners Definition of explanation

: the act or process of making something clear or easy to understand : the act or process of telling, showing, or being the reason for or cause of something
: something (such as a statement or fact) that explains something


ex·​pla·​na·​tion | \ ˌek-splə-ˈnā-shən \

Kids Definition of explanation

1 : the act or process of making clear or giving reasons for “Nothin' happened,” said Stacey in explanation— Mildred D. Taylor, Roll of Thunder
2 : a statement that makes something clear or gives reasons for something

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