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 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 People talk for a while, sprinkling jokes and morsels of personality into the heavy dough of exposition. A.o. Scott, New York Times, "‘Avengers: Infinity War’: It’s Marvel’s Universe. We Just Live in It.," 24 Apr. 2018 The story that unravels from there is one that, in the hands of a lesser writer, could have been drowned in a deluge of exposition. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "I want to buy this YA trilogy about gene-hacking for every teen I know," 11 Nov. 2018 The line, from Gary Ross’ and Olivia Milch’s script, is a simple plot exposition device, but one that’s heavy in meaning. refinery29.com, "Ocean's 8 Review: Coats, Cartier & Real Female Friendships — What's Not To Love?," 6 June 2018 At some points, mostly when exposition is necessary, the balance seems tenuous —but Castle Rock boasts some incredible performances that help smooth the show’s seams. Karen Han, Vox, "Hulu’s Castle Rock gets what makes Stephen King so scary," 20 July 2018 The naval training station at the exposition grounds was represented by a thousand embryo blue-jackets. sandiegouniontribune.com, "July 4, 1917: San Diego Honors New Citizens," 4 July 2018 Once the re-exposition is out of the way, and a few blunt sociopolitical points are made to pull us into Lanford, Ill., 2018, the show gets real again and relaxes into a portrait of complicated people scraping by together in still-difficult times. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "'Roseanne' review: Roseanne Barr and cast reunite for an update on the iconic sitcom," 27 Mar. 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

11 May 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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

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