interpret

verb
in·​ter·​pret | \ in-ˈtər-prət How to pronounce interpret (audio) , -pət\
interpreted; interpreting; interprets

Definition of interpret

transitive verb

1 : to explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms interpret dreams needed help interpreting the results
2 : to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance : construe interpret a contract
3 : to represent by means of art : bring to realization by performance or direction interprets a role

intransitive verb

: to act as an interpreter between speakers of different languages

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Other Words from interpret

interpretability \ in-​ˌtər-​prə-​tə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce interpretability (audio) , -​pə-​tə-​ \ noun
interpretable \ in-​ˈtər-​prə-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce interpretable (audio) , -​pə-​tə-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for interpret

explain, expound, explicate, elucidate, interpret mean to make something clear or understandable. explain implies a making plain or intelligible what is not immediately obvious or entirely known. explain the rules expound implies a careful often elaborate explanation. expounding a scientific theory explicate adds the idea of a developed or detailed analysis. explicate a poem elucidate stresses the throwing of light upon as by offering details or motives previously unclear or only implicit. elucidate an obscure passage interpret adds to explain the need for imagination or sympathy or special knowledge in dealing with something. interpreting a work of art

Examples of interpret in a Sentence

We need someone to interpret these results for us. How should we interpret the law? I interpreted his behavior to mean that he disliked me. Every actor interprets the role of Hamlet a little differently.
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Recent Examples on the Web

In any case, the New Jersey attorney general has no special authority to interpret state corporate law and no expertise in Delaware law. Hal Scott, WSJ, "The SEC’s Misguided Attack on Shareholder Arbitration," 22 Feb. 2019 Mandy gets to interpret/play Rebecca the same and carry that emotional backstory she's built in every scene. Michelle Manetti, Good Housekeeping, "'This Is Us' Fans Were Furious About Older Nicky During Last Night's Episode," 23 Jan. 2019 Thankfully, Alexa is so far unable to accurately interpret any requests that come from Sadie, our four-year-old, for which everyone (but Sadie) is grateful. Steven Brykman, Ars Technica, "Douglas Adams was right: “Genuine people personalities” are coming to our gadgets," 22 Dec. 2018 There are some important caveats about how these polls should be interpretedIt’s worth reiterating that exit polling — much like polling in general — doesn’t offer a definitive picture of exactly what’s happening. Li Zhou, Vox, "An overwhelming majority of voters say Trump was a factor in their midterm decision," 6 Nov. 2018 The randomness of the path is a blessing and a curse: the photon carries some of the path information with it, but interpreting the information is very difficult, and this prevents an image from being reconstructed. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Metamaterial-equipped endoscope reveals your innermost secrets," 4 Aug. 2018 Scholars and judges have continued to disagree over whether the Constitution should be interpreted to forbid religious symbols on government property or religious invocations at government meetings. David G. Savage, latimes.com, "Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh lauded late Chief Justice Rehnquist for dissenting in Roe vs. Wade and supporting school prayer," 11 July 2018 Ergo, yield curves should be interpreted with caution. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Is a flattening yield curve a sign of a coming recession?," 6 July 2018 If true of alternative work more broadly, that would suggest that what many commenters interpreted as a structural shift in the economy was instead a temporary result of a weak labor market. Ben Casselman, New York Times, "Maybe the Gig Economy Isn’t Reshaping Work After All," 7 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for interpret

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French interpreter, from Latin interpretari, from interpret-, interpres agent, negotiator, interpreter

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Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for interpret

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

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More Definitions for interpret

interpret

verb

English Language Learners Definition of interpret

: to explain the meaning of (something)
: to understand (something) in a specified way
: to perform (something, such as a song or a role) in a way that shows your own thoughts and feelings about it

interpret

verb
in·​ter·​pret | \ in-ˈtər-prət How to pronounce interpret (audio) \
interpreted; interpreting

Kids Definition of interpret

1 : to explain the meaning of She claims to interpret dreams.
2 : to understand in a particular way He interpreted Cluny's order as the much-coveted promotion to second-in-command.— Brian Jacques, Redwall
3 : to bring out the meaning of An actor interprets a role.

interpret

transitive verb
in·​ter·​pret | \ in-ˈtər-prət How to pronounce interpret (audio) \

Legal Definition of interpret

: to explain or tell the meaning of (as a document) especially in order to determine intent they must interpret the provisions of the Constitution— L. H. Tribe

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