Synonym Chooser

How does the verb interpret contrast with its synonyms?

Some common synonyms of interpret are elucidate, explain, explicate, and expound. While all these words mean "to make something clear or understandable," interpret adds to explain the need for imagination or sympathy or special knowledge in dealing with something.

interpreting a work of art

When can elucidate be used instead of interpret?

The meanings of elucidate and interpret largely overlap; however, elucidate stresses the throwing of light upon as by offering details or motives previously unclear or only implicit.

elucidate an obscure passage

When would explain be a good substitute for interpret?

While the synonyms explain and interpret are close in meaning, explain implies a making plain or intelligible what is not immediately obvious or entirely known.

explain the rules

When is it sensible to use explicate instead of interpret?

In some situations, the words explicate and interpret are roughly equivalent. However, explicate adds the idea of a developed or detailed analysis.

explicate a poem

When might expound be a better fit than interpret?

The words expound and interpret can be used in similar contexts, but expound implies a careful often elaborate explanation.

expounding a scientific theory

Thesaurus Entries Near interpret

Cite this Entry

“Interpret.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on interpret

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