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

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
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.
Recent Examples on the Web However, Hart’s actual statement lacks the explicit declaration of Plaintiff’s innocence or non-involvement. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2024 In the 1990s, 2 Live Crew had to fight against having their lyrics being banned by the government for being too explicit. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 9 July 2024 Few people have made simple counting more fun than J-Kwon in the past two decades, and even fewer have made the radio mix of their hits superior to the explicit version. Josh Glicksman, Billboard, 9 July 2024 Any app accessing private user data (Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Photos, any third-party app sandbox, etc.) now requires explicit user access. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, 5 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for explicit 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'explicit.' 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 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 for 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 14 Jul. 2024.

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!