ex·​plic·​it | \ ik-ˈspli-sət How to pronounce explicit (audio) \

Essential Meaning of explicit

1 : very clear and complete : leaving no doubt about the meaning They were given explicit instructions. Changes to the property can't be done without their explicit consent. The law is very explicit about how these measures should be enacted.
2 : showing or referring very openly to nudity, violence, or sexual activity explicit photographs They're concerned about exposing children to (sexually) explicit films. a song with explicit lyrics
3 : openly shown The movie contains scenes of explicit violence. two people engaging in explicit sex sexually explicit conduct

Full Definition of explicit

1a : fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity : leaving no question as to meaning or intent explicit instructions — compare implicit sense 1a
b : open in the depiction of nudity or sexuality explicit books and films
2 : fully developed or formulated an explicit plan an explicit notion of our objective
3 : unambiguous in expression was very explicit on how we are to behave
4 of a mathematical function : defined by an expression containing only independent variables — compare implicit sense 3b

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Other Words from explicit

explicitness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for explicit

explicit, definite, express, specific mean perfectly clear in meaning. explicit implies such verbal plainness and distinctness that there is no need for inference and no room for difficulty in understanding. explicit instructions definite stresses precise, clear statement or arrangement that leaves no doubt or indecision. the law is definite in such cases express implies both explicitness and direct and positive utterance. her express wishes specific applies to what is precisely and fully treated in detail or particular. two specific criticisms

Examples of explicit in a Sentence

From closer restrictions on sexually explicit writing came the success, in the mid-19th century, of the novelist George Thompson, who combined graphically violent scenes set in urban dystopias with coy peekaboo references to sex. — Susan Dominus, New York Times Book Review, 5 Apr. 2009 Therefore, the Administration's policy was the explicit, if unpublicized, one that it was necessary to allow Saddam Hussein to put down the rebellions. — Elizabeth Drew, New Yorker, 6 May 1991 They were given explicit instructions. Changes to the property can't be done without their explicit consent. The law is very explicit about how these measures should be enacted. a song with explicit lyrics The movie contains scenes of explicit violence.
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Recent Examples on the Web One thing that can help to eliminate such miscommunication is making one’s assumptions explicit. Laura Giurge And Vanessa Bohns, WSJ, 2 Oct. 2021 Even on cases that result in public orders, such as those last week rejecting the Biden administration's policy on US asylum-seekers and a Covid-19 eviction moratorium, the justices do not make their votes explicit. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 1 Sep. 2021 The boy’s father later saw the phone, which had explicit photos that Lopez-Murray had sent, the report said. orlandosentinel.com, 5 Oct. 2021 Collateral could include explicit photos of themselves and even letters or statements making false or embarrassing claims that could be damaging if released. Sonia Moghe, CNN, 8 Sep. 2021 Apple confirmed the feature stores undeletable copies of explicit photos that children under 13 send or receive. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 More than half of states had explicit plans last year, though some of those leave key questions to hospitals, researchers found. Hannah Knowles, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Sep. 2021 Instead of focusing on explicit scenes, the festival team decided to spotlight films that normalize sexuality. Marta Balaga, Variety, 22 Sep. 2021 But the language: The show is full of explicit words, all ripped from real life. Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2021

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

1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for explicit

French or Medieval Latin; French explicite, from Medieval Latin explicitus, from Latin, past participle of explicare — see explicate

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Time Traveler for explicit

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The first known use of explicit was in 1549

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Explicit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/explicit. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for explicit


ex·​plic·​it | \ ik-ˈspli-sət How to pronounce explicit (audio) \

Kids Definition of explicit

: so clear in statement that there is no doubt about the meaning explicit instructions

More from Merriam-Webster on explicit

Nglish: Translation of explicit for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of explicit for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about explicit


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