adjective ex·plic·it \ ik-ˈspli-sət \
|Updated on: 18 Jul 2018

Definition of explicit

1 a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent
  • explicit instructions
b : open in the depiction of nudity or sexuality
  • explicit books and films
2 : fully developed or formulated
  • an explicit plan
  • an explicit notion of our objective
3 : unambiguous in expression
  • was very explicit on how we are to behave
4 of a mathematical function : defined by an expression containing only independent variables — compare implicit 1c





Examples of explicit in a Sentence

  1. 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 DominusNew York Times Book Review5 Apr. 2009
  2. … the cheerleaders in Washington wore dreads and leather pants and those burdensome-looking collections of buttons (those … skeins of explicit ideology), rather than letter sweaters and pleated skirts … —Jonathan FranzenNew Yorker5 Feb. 2001
  3. 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 DrewNew Yorker6 May 1991
  4. They were given explicit instructions.

  5. Changes to the property can't be done without their explicit consent.

  6. The law is very explicit about how these measures should be enacted.

  7. a song with explicit lyrics

  8. The movie contains scenes of explicit violence.

  9. two people engaging in explicit sex

Recent Examples of explicit from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of explicit

French or Medieval Latin; French explicite, from Medieval Latin explicitus, from Latin, past participle of explicare — see explicate

Synonym Discussion of 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

EXPLICIT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of explicit for English Language Learners

  • : very clear and complete : leaving no doubt about the meaning

  • : showing or referring very openly to nudity, violence, or sexual activity

  • : openly shown

EXPLICIT Defined for Kids


adjective ex·plic·it \ ik-ˈspli-sət \

Definition of explicit for Students

: so clear in statement that there is no doubt about the meaning
  • explicit instructions

Seen and Heard

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one who attends or assists a leader

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