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explain

[ ik-spleyn ]
/ ɪkˈspleɪn /
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See synonyms for: explain / explained / explaining / explains on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)

to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible: to explain an obscure point.
to make known in detail: to explain how to do something.
to assign a meaning to; interpret: How can you explain such a silly remark?
to make clear the cause or reason of; account for: I cannot explain his strange behavior.

verb (used without object)

to give an explanation.

Verb Phrases

explain away,
  1. to diminish or nullify the significance of by explanation: He couldn't explain away his absence from home at the time the robbery was committed.
  2. to dispel (doubts, difficulties, etc.) by explanation: She explained away the child's fears.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of explain

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English explanen, from Latin explānāre “to smooth out, make intelligible, spread out on flat surface”; see origin at ex-1, plane1

OTHER WORDS FROM explain

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

WHEN TO USE

What are other ways to say explain?

To explain something is to make it plain or clear, or to render it understandable or intelligible. How does explain compare to synonyms elucidate, expound, and interpret? Find out on Thesaurus.com.

Example sentences from the Web for explain

British Dictionary definitions for explain

explain
/ (ɪkˈspleɪn) /

verb

(when tr, may take a clause as object) to make (something) comprehensible, esp by giving a clear and detailed account of the relevant structure, operation, surrounding circumstances, etc
(tr) to justify or attempt to justify (oneself) by giving reasons for one's actions or words

Derived forms of explain

explainable, adjectiveexplainer, noun

Word Origin for explain

C15: from Latin explānāre to flatten, from plānus level
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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