ex·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌek-spə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce exposition (audio) \

Definition of exposition

1 : a setting forth of the meaning or purpose (as of a writing)
2a : discourse or an example of it designed to convey information or explain what is difficult to understand
b(1) : the first part of a musical composition in sonata form in which the thematic material of the movement is presented
(2) : the opening section of a fugue
3 : a public exhibition or show

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Other Words from exposition

expositional \ ˌek-​spə-​ˈzish-​nəl How to pronounce expositional (audio) , -​ˈzi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Synonyms for exposition


display, exhibit, exhibition, expo, fair, show

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Examples of exposition in a Sentence

This is not an easy book, and the reader may find the layers of detail challenging. There are long expositions of the knotty tangles of monarchical lineage, and the necessary chronicle of historical events occasionally consumes the novel's narrative drive. — Lucy Lethbridge, Commonweal, 23 Oct. 2009 He is masterly in absorbing information and masterful in organizing it—skeptical of fashion, clear in exposition, fluent in communication, unremittingly scholarly. — Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, New York Times Book Review, 11 June 2000 Although they were invited to use an early X ray machine on display at the exposition, they turned down the offer, and they never found the bullet. — T. Burton Smith, American Heritage, September 1992 The subject requires some exposition. a clear exposition of his ideas
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Recent Examples on the Web

But the play wears its research heavily, regularly trotting out from-the-annals factoids and bits of educational exposition, and the dialogue is often too blunt. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "Anxious men and other world-builders at CATF 2019," 9 July 2019 But Shields’s drifting approach also allows him to make persuasive and even moving arguments that proceed by accumulation and association rather than by simple exposition. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "The Profound Silence of Marshawn Lynch," 14 June 2019 The book revisits the stepwise journey through nature’s scales that has long served as a hook in scientific exposition — it was notably employed in Robert Hooke’s 1665 best-seller Micrographia and in the acclaimed 1977 short film Powers of Ten. Quanta Magazine, "From the Edge of the Universe to the Inside of a Proton," 16 Oct. 2017 Among those ploys, the film relies on Facetime and webcam chats to provide exposition and include other characters. Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Blowing Up Right Now': Film Review," 16 June 2019 But there’s also a soapy mystery involving Anna’s past, and enough exposition that newcomers to 28 Barbary Lane should be able to find their way. Ellen Gray, https://www.inquirer.com, "Summer TV: 'Big Little Lies,’ ‘Stranger Things,’ a Kevin Bacon drama, and much more," 5 June 2019 This compelling new work powers through most of its 90 minutes as a mystery, with Kaufman cleverly dropping clues and filling in the story (such as exposition laced into a creative writing critique). Jim Rutter, Philly.com, "'Sensitive Guys' at InterAct: Satire on PC, rape culture, gender, and millennial zeal," 25 Jan. 2018 But it’s only explanation, the lazy twin of exposition, to someone who is, to put it charitably, a slow learner. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Green Book’ Review: Trying to Get Along," 15 Nov. 2018 The camouflage, developed by Russian defense contractor Rostec, will be shown off at this week’s Army-2018 defense exposition in Moscow. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia to Demonstrate Active Camouflage for Soldiers, Tanks," 20 Aug. 2018

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

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First Known Use of exposition

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exposition

see exposit

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Statistics for exposition

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exposition

The first known use of exposition was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for exposition



English Language Learners Definition of exposition

formal : the act of explaining something : clear explanation
: a public show or exhibition


ex·​po·​si·​tion | \ ˌek-spə-ˈzi-shən How to pronounce exposition (audio) \

Kids Definition of exposition

1 : an explanation of something
2 : a public exhibition

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Comments on exposition

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


something desired as essential

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