ex·plic·it | \ ik-ˈspli-sət \

Definition of explicit 

1a : 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 sense 1c

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from explicit

explicitly adverb
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

Examples of explicit in a Sentence

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 … 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 Franzen, New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2001 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. two people engaging in explicit sex
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

What the combo leads to is a sweeping double-sided collection of vague disses and explicit references, leaving fans with general confirmation (yes, there’s a mini Drake in the world), while keeping cryptic on the remaining details. Natalie Maher, Billboard, "Drake's 9 Best Call-Outs on 'Scorpion'," 29 June 2018 Over time, messages became more explicit and included photos, according to court documents. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Portage assistant diving coach in court for sexual misconduct charges," 4 May 2018 Facebook Messenger chat with Peters and others while at work and encouraged Peters to send explicit photos. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "UCF ends internship program with Orange County HR after secret video shot of student," 15 June 2018 With that resolution passed, carriers no longer have to ask for explicit permission before viewing, sharing, or using that data — a surefire move to bring in those precious ad dollars. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Net neutrality is dead — what now?," 11 June 2018 Apps on iOS will now need explicit permission to use the camera, microphone, location data, mail, messages, and more. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Everything Apple Announced at WWDC 2018," 4 June 2018 The girl at first refused, court documents said, but then began to text London explicit photos. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Portage assistant diving coach in court for sexual misconduct charges," 4 May 2018 The new restrictions can also prevent children from accessing inappropriate content, as was the case when one Echo accidentally responded with explicit language when a young boy asked it to play a children’s song. Lisa Eadicicco, Time, "Amazon's New Echo for Kids Will Train Your Children to Say 'Please'," 25 Apr. 2018 Note to readers: This story contains explicit language. Noel Harris, sacbee, "Radio host made inappropriate comments about Olympian Chloe Kim. He’s now out of a job," 14 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of explicit

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for explicit

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about explicit

Statistics for explicit

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for explicit

The first known use of explicit was in 1549

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for explicit



English Language Learners Definition of explicit

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

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

: openly shown


ex·plic·it | \ ik-ˈspli-sət \

Kids Definition of explicit

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on explicit

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


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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