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

However, over the weekend, one right-wing pundit took it upon himself to accuse King of misinterpreting her father's words and offer his own (wildly incorrect) interpretation instead. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Right-Wing Blogger Lucian Wintrich Tried to Mansplain Martin Luther King Jr.'s Teachings to Bernice King," 21 May 2018 Some of it is more open to interpretation: Is the three-headed dog behind her supposed to be Cerberus, the ravenous creature who guards the underworld in Greek mythology? Bonnie Stiernberg, Glamour, "Ariana Grande's 'God Is a Woman' Video Is an Incredible Manifesto for Empowering Female Sexuality," 14 July 2018 In one popular interpretation of comics history, American superhero comics started out as simple, pandering stories for kids, but have matured and become more sophisticated over time. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 11 July 2018 The problem is that soccer decisions that need replays are far more likely to be open to interpretation. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Video replay (VAR) is a joke, and it's making the World Cup worse," 23 June 2018 In any case, the lawyers argued, the surveillance video that led to the cruelty charges, was dark, grainy, inconclusive, and open to interpretation. Josh Kovner,, "Whiting Abuse Defendants Make Case For Accelerated Rehabilitation," 12 June 2018 That's the catch-and-release loophole due to the interpretation of the Flores [2015 class-action lawsuit] settlement by the 9th Circuit District Court that says that ICE cannot detain families more than 20 days. Molly Hennessy-fiske,, "Border protection commissioner talks 'zero tolerance,' family separations and how to discourage immigration," 11 June 2018 Just who is gifting and receiving the soup is left open to interpretation. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "High-Tech Scanning Shows Picasso’s Blue Period Evolution," 11 June 2018 Until a change is introduced, though, existing state law will stay open to interpretation, Eymann said. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "A news station asked an Idaho city for public records. The city charged it sales tax | Idaho Statesman," 25 May 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

3 Oct 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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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