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

Also canceled—unceremoniously, without explanation, by the host. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Travelogue Podcast: What to Do When Your Trip Goes Terribly, Horribly Wrong," 14 Dec. 2018 This seems like a way to limit reading and knowledge, without any explanation of how the particular book might be harmful. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "How the State, Prisons, and Guards Keep Books from Incarcerated People," 12 Dec. 2018 China this week arrested a former Canadian diplomat without explanation, after threatening in state media unspecified consequences for Ottawa following Ms. Meng’s arrest. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Trade Deals With China—Done the Chinese Way," 12 Dec. 2018 The closed hearing came after the judge delayed Manafort’s trial for hours last Friday without explanation. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Manafort trial turns from prosecution’s case to his defense," 13 Aug. 2018 The brand removed and ceased using the images, posting an apology on Instagram without an explanation of how the offending imagery came to be. Marci Robin, Allure, "Becca Responds to Accusations That It Darkened a Model's Hand for the Skin Love Campaign," 11 Aug. 2018 Melania remains unseen for nearly one month, without explanation. Rhonda Garelick, The Cut, "Melania’s Recent Behavior Is Right Out of Hitchcock," 11 June 2018 Instead, the only possible explanation seems to be that someone drilled the hole, either accidentally or on purpose. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "The ISS Hole Came From Inside the Station, Says Cosmonaut," 26 Dec. 2018 The conventional explanation for how smell works seems straightforward: The receptors accept very specific shapes of molecules. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 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

18 Jan 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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Comments on explanation

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


a complex dispute or argument

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