ex·​plic·​it ik-ˈspli-sət How to pronounce explicit (audio)
: fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent
explicit instructions
compare implicit sense 1a
: open in the depiction of nudity or sexuality
explicit books and films
: fully developed or formulated
an explicit plan
an explicit notion of our objective
: unambiguous in expression
was very explicit on how we are to behave
of a mathematical function : defined by an expression containing only independent variables compare implicit sense 3b
explicitness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for explicit

explicit, definite, express, specific mean perfectly clear in meaning.

explicit implies such verbal plainness and distinctness that there is no need for inference and no room for difficulty in understanding.

explicit instructions

definite stresses precise, clear statement or arrangement that leaves no doubt or indecision.

the law is definite in such cases

express implies both explicitness and direct and positive utterance.

her express wishes

specific applies to what is precisely and fully treated in detail or particular.

two specific criticisms

Example Sentences

From closer restrictions on sexually explicit writing came the success, in the mid-19th century, of the novelist George Thompson, who combined graphically violent scenes set in urban dystopias with coy peekaboo references to sex. Susan Dominus, New York Times Book Review, 5 Apr. 2009 Therefore, the Administration's policy was the explicit, if unpublicized, one that it was necessary to allow Saddam Hussein to put down the rebellions. Elizabeth Drew, New Yorker, 6 May 1991 They were given explicit instructions. Changes to the property can't be done without their explicit consent. The law is very explicit about how these measures should be enacted. a song with explicit lyrics The movie contains scenes of explicit violence. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In Michigan and four other states, the issue is explicit, appearing as a referendum or amendment on the ballot. Katie Mcinerney, BostonGlobe.com, 9 Nov. 2022 Some Western leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have been explicit recently that a settlement will eventually require Mr. Zelensky’s government to sit down with Mr. Putin to hammer out terms. Matthew Luxmoore, WSJ, 8 Nov. 2022 While Portia may be explicit with her unhappiness, characters like Harper Spiller (Aubrey Plaza) are more subtly so. Katherine Singh, refinery29.com, 1 Nov. 2022 Coach Tyronn Lue has been explicit in setting the bar high for the Clippers. Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2022 The rest of her work, though highly charged, is never so explicit. Sasha Weiss Sasha Weiss Photographs By Justin French Nick Haramis Photographs By Lise Sarfati Styled By Suzanne Koller Adam Bradley Photographs By D’angelo Lovell Williams Styled By Ian Bradley Susan Dominus Photographs By Luis Alberto Rodriguez Styled By Charlotte Collet, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022 The Like Water for Chocolate references are sometimes explicit: There is the book, opened to the recipe for codornices en pétalos de rosa. Andrea Aliseda, Harper's BAZAAR, 12 Oct. 2022 And it’s, again, on the verge of being too explicit in a way. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 7 Oct. 2022 But the board once again demanded that the company make its policies more explicit. Steven Levy, WIRED, 8 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'explicit.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French explicite, borrowed from Medieval Latin explicitus, going back to Latin, "free from difficulties," variant past participle of explicāre "to free from folds or creases, unroll, disentangle, spread out, set out in words, give an account of" — more at explicate

Note: Verbs built on the stem -plicā- have the variants -plicuī, -plicitus alongside a regular perfect and past participle -plicāvī, -plicātus. Oxford Latin Dictionary notes that explicāre the variants explicuī, explicitus come later, replacing explicāvī, explicātus after the time of Cicero. See also exploit entry 1.

First Known Use

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of explicit was in 1549

Dictionary Entries Near explicit

Cite this Entry

“Explicit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explicit. Accessed 3 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ex·​plic·​it ik-ˈsplis-ət How to pronounce explicit (audio)
: so clear in statement that there is no doubt about the meaning
explicit instructions
explicitly adverb
explicitness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on explicit

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!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.