ex·​plan·​a·​to·​ry | \ik-ˈspla-nə-ˌtȯr-ē \

Definition of explanatory 

: serving to explain explanatory notes

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Other Words from explanatory

explanatorily \ik-​ˌspla-​nə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of explanatory in a Sentence

There are explanatory notes at the front of the book. the explanatory section has as its heading “What the New Tax Changes Mean”

Recent Examples on the Web

Paltrow, who posted the photo, didn't include a caption, but the image is self-explanatory. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Newlyweds Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk Flaunt Their Wedding Bands on Instagram," 1 Oct. 2018 The Fingerprint Unit is pretty self-explanatory, and the Digital Evidence Unit collects and examines computer hard drives, phones, and other electronic devices. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "The Technology of Pipe Bombs and Suspicious Packages, Explained," 25 Oct. 2018 Bits of explanatory text, printed on large-scale red polka dots, enrich the exhibition with insights into the artist's philosophy and evolution. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Kusama 'Infinity Mirrors' show in Toronto offers preview of what's coming to Cleveland (photos)," 6 May 2018 This year's explanatory Pulitzer is the first newsroom-wide win. Anne Ryman, azcentral, "Arizona Republic and USA TODAY NETWORK win Pulitzer Prize for border wall project," 16 Apr. 2018 Eschewing explanatory and identifying onscreen text, Wang-Breal (Tough Love) uses a mostly verite approach to immerse the viewer in the work of the court and the nonprofits it partners with. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Blowin' Up': Film Review | Tribeca 2018," 27 Apr. 2018 The project went on to win a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Grace Palmieri, azcentral, "How to get tickets for 'The Wall' documentary film event in Phoenix," 29 June 2018 Another somewhat self-explanatory tip, but obey the local laws when using fireworks. Joshua Trudell, ajc, "10 ways to enjoy Fourth of July fireworks safely," 27 June 2018 The Streaming, All, and P2P options are self-explanatory. Ian Paul, PCWorld, "Hide My Ass Pro 4 review: A noticeable upgrade with great speeds," 27 June 2018

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

1600, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for explanatory

The first known use of explanatory was in 1600

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More Definitions for explanatory



English Language Learners Definition of explanatory

: made or included in order to explain something


ex·​plan·​a·​to·​ry | \ik-ˈspla-nə-ˌtȯr-ē \

Kids Definition of explanatory

: giving explanation explanatory notes

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Comments on explanatory

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


a knickknack or trinket

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