ex·​pli·​cate ˈek-splə-ˌkāt How to pronounce explicate (audio)
explicated; explicating

transitive verb

: to give a detailed explanation of
: to develop the implications of : analyze logically
explication noun
explicator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for explicate

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

Examples of explicate in a Sentence

an essay explicating a theory the physicist did his best to explicate the wave theory of light for the audience of laymen
Recent Examples on the Web Far from explicating this less-is-more paradox, the EPA’s 170-page report does not even acknowledge it. Marlo Lewis, National Review, 29 Dec. 2023 Kane credits the show’s cast and crew for explicating to her why Pelia would, say, request that the Enterprise vent plasma out of the warp nacelles. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 15 June 2023 As numerous scholars and thinkers have explicated, that notion is too simple. Jillian Steinhauer, The New Republic, 21 Aug. 2023 The movie accepts and explicates the ways that this hypersexualized yet genital-free doll is a reactionary archetype of femininity under a mega-consumerist patriarchy—this recognition is, rather miraculously, part of the fun. Jessica Winter, The New Yorker, 27 July 2023 At the base of our consciousness, all a novelist is is somebody who's trying to explicate the human condition. Gideon Lichfield, WIRED, 19 July 2023 Mangold’s goal was to make a film worthy of the iconic hero and the movie star embodying him — and, perhaps, explicate his own feelings about the world passing him by. Adam B. Vary, Variety, 21 June 2023 Rather than using pictures to illustrate words, or words to explicate pictures, Mr. Selznick traded off batches of each, alternating between sequences of text and illustration across a vast number of pages. Meghan Cox Gurdon, wsj.com, 20 Apr. 2023 Macklemore is a rapper whose clarity of thought is matched only by those thoughts’ corniness, but this quality is better suited to explicating the nature of his own existence than the broader social concerns that dominated his previous LPs. Clayton Purdom, Rolling Stone, 3 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'explicate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin explicātus, past participle of explicō, explicāre "to free from folds or creases, unroll, disentangle, spread out, set out in words, give an account of," from ex- ex- entry 1 + plicāre "to fold, bend" — more at ply entry 3

First Known Use

1531, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of explicate was in 1531

Dictionary Entries Near explicate

Cite this Entry

“Explicate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explicate. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


ex·​pli·​cate ˈek-splə-ˌkāt How to pronounce explicate (audio)
explicated; explicating
: to give a complete explanation of
explication noun

More from Merriam-Webster on explicate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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