in·​ter·​pre·​ta·​tion | \ in-ˌtər-prə-ˈtā-shən , -pə-\

Definition of interpretation

1 : the act or the result of interpreting : explanation
2 : a particular adaptation or version of a work, method, or style
3 : a teaching technique that combines factual with stimulating explanatory information natural history interpretation program

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Other Words from interpretation

interpretational \ in-​ˌtər-​prə-​ˈtā-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl , -​pə-​ \ adjective
interpretative \ in-​ˈtər-​prə-​ˌtā-​tiv also  -​prə-​tə-​tiv \ adjective
interpretatively adverb
interpretive \ in-​ˈtər-​prə-​tiv , -​pə-​ \ adjective
interpretively adverb

Examples of interpretation in a Sentence

a literal interpretation of the law The truth will only be found by careful interpretation of the evidence. His remarks need further interpretation. an actor's interpretation of the role of Hamlet
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Recent Examples on the Web

Led by Manari Ushigua, an indigenous leader and shaman, the five- or- seven-day programs focus on meditation, traditional healing rituals, botany, dream interpretation, jungle treks, and river swims. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "28 Places Our Travel Specialists Say You Should Go in 2019," 17 Dec. 2018 But others seemed lost in their interpretations, like high school students reading a play aloud in English class. Joshua Barone, New York Times, "The Trouble With Bernstein’s Broadway in the Concert Hall," 13 July 2018 Prior versions of the manual left many aspects of the diagnostic process open to clinicians’ observations and interpretations, but the DSM-III listed specific criteria required for a diagnosis. Lina Zeldovich, Science | AAAS, "Cold parenting? Childhood schizophrenia? How the diagnosis of autism has evolved over time," 9 May 2018 The result was a casual interpretation of one of Loren's meticulous, high-drama updos, though further pared down with a simple swirl of pink blush and a sheer, glassy lip. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski Pins Her Hair Up—and Channels an Iconic Italian Bombshell in Milan," 24 Sep. 2018 Not by grabbing the nearest stereotype and wearing it to a party, but by looking around and noticing there are as many interpretations of femininity as there are women. Carolyn Hax, The Seattle Times, "A tomboy ponders playing the coquette," 27 Aug. 2018 There are also many different cultural and spiritual interpretations of psychotic symptoms. Stefanie Lyn Kaufman As Told To Korin Miller, SELF, "This Is What It's Really Like to Experience Psychosis," 23 Aug. 2018 And what's also amazing as Ari Fleischer tweeted out earlier, is that the media is not clamoring to get the DNC to put out a statement, and there is obviously interpretations of why that is. Fox News, "Geraldo on Trump's war of words with Omarosa," 15 Aug. 2018 Others are a brewery’s interpretation of a light, easy-drinking lager. Josh Noel,, "Can craft brewers make good light beer? Our tasting pits them against Bud, Miller, Coors, more," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interpretation.' 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 interpretation

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for interpretation

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

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English Language Learners Definition of interpretation

: the act or result of explaining or interpreting something : the way something is explained or understood
: a particular way of performing something


in·​ter·​pre·​ta·​tion | \ in-ˌtər-prə-ˈtā-shən \

Kids Definition of interpretation

1 : the way something is explained or understood What's your interpretation of the results?
2 : a particular way of performing something (as a dramatic role)


in·​ter·​pre·​ta·​tion | \ in-ˌtər-prə-ˈtā-shən, -pə- \

Medical Definition of interpretation

: the act or result of giving an explanation of something interpretation of the symptoms of disease especially : an explanation in understandable terms to a patient in psychotherapy of the deeper meaning according to psychological theory of the material related and the behavior exhibited by the patient during treatment

Other Words from interpretation

interpret \ in-​ˈtər-​prət, -​pət \ transitive verb
interpretive \ -​prət-​iv, -​pət-​ \ or interpretative \ -​prə-​ˌtāt-​iv , -​prət-​ət-​iv \ adjective

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in·​ter·​pre·​ta·​tion | \ in-ˌtər-prə-ˈtā-shən \

Legal Definition of interpretation

: the act or result of interpreting — compare construction

Other Words from interpretation

interpretative \ in-​ˈtər-​prə-​ˌtā-​tiv, -​tə-​tiv \ adjective
interpretive \ in-​ˈtər-​prə-​tiv \ adjective

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