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

Kylie Jenner's gaze-encasing interpretation of her leopard print top—a smudged cocoa edged along both lashlines before extending into a softly swung cat-eye—is a holiday-ready win. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Instagrams of the Week: Kylie Jenner Takes Leopard to Lid-Level (and More!)," 18 Nov. 2018 Unlike many modern interpretations, Tetris Effect doesn’t mess with what made the original game so loved. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Tetris Effect is a glorious love letter to Tetris," 9 Nov. 2018 Each one of us could have this treatment done by somebody who takes stark, literal interpretations of behavior that is out of context. Fox News, "Kavanaugh grilled on cases during confirmation hearing," 6 Sep. 2018 Kavanaugh’s hundreds of judicial opinions show his commitment to careful, honest, detached interpretation of the Constitution and laws of the United States. Jack Goldsmith, Time, "Brett Kavanaugh Will Right the Course of the Supreme Court," 12 July 2018 One can resent the game’s vulnerability to interpretation, its frequently unjust outcomes, or one can embrace it. Alejandro Chacoff, The Atlantic, "Soccer Has No Interest in Fairness," 12 July 2018 Sculley and Treviño counter that the historic interpretation of the Alamo footprint, including lowering the surface by 16 inches and replication of an old acequia, would preclude vehicle access on Alamo Street. Scott Huddleston, San Antonio Express-News, "Officials try to avoid battle over Alamo plan," 8 July 2018 The Northern Virginia Urban League, which owns the site at 1315 Duke St., and the city plan to expand interpretation, management and preservation of the museum, which was financially faltering when the city gave it a $63,000 loan earlier this year. Washington Post, "7-year-old Baltimore girl shot in back of car," 7 July 2018 At the top is the most quintessential of interpretations, the cheeseburger ($3), which is crafted with Foxhollow Farm beef and adorned with a blanket of American cheese, special sauce and pickles. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "Oskar's fills a food void in Louisville we didn't know we had | Review," 4 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

28 Nov 2018

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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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Comments on interpretation

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


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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