- 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.
- to give an explanation.
- explain away,
- 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.
- to dispel (doubts, difficulties, etc.) by explanation: She explained away the child's fears.
Origin of explain
Examples from the Web for explain
A grand juror in the Ferguson case is suing to be able to explain exactly what went down in the courtroom.Politicians Only Love Journalists When They're Dead
January 8, 2015
I asked her to explain more about these “private customers.”Iran’s Becoming a Footloose Nation as Dance Lessons Spread
January 2, 2015
After the curtain calls, Christopher comes back to explain a complicated math problem.Hedwig, Hugh & Michael Cera: 12 Powerhouse Theater Performances of 2014
December 31, 2014
The problem is, how do you find a movie narrative that can explain genius, British or otherwise?
Nothing can be explained without the language to explain it.
Don't mind him, dad—I know all about it, I tell you—I'll explain later to you.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Lucas spoke to him in Flemish to explain his own return with the English prentice.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
But before you start to read let me explain what I intend to do.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
Nothin' you could understand; you need a mother to explain things to you.Way of the Lawless
"I'll have to explain," she smiled as she introduced him to Evelyn.Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
- (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
Word Origin and History for explain
early 15c., from Latin explanare "to make level, smooth out;" also "to explain, make clear" (see explanation).
Originally explane, spelling altered by influence of plain. Also see plane (v.2). In 17c., occasionally used more literally, of the unfolding of material things: Evelyn has buds that "explain into leaves" ["Sylva, or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesties dominions," 1664]. Related: Explained; explaining; explains.