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.
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.
- ex·plain·a·ble, adjective
- ex·plain·er, ex·pla·na·tor [ek-spluh-ney-ter], /ˈɛk spləˌneɪ tər/, noun
- mis·ex·plained, adjective
- non·ex·plain·a·ble, adjective
- o·ver·ex·plain, verb
- pre·ex·plain, verb
- re·ex·plain, verb (used with object)
- un·ex·plain·a·ble, adjective
- un·ex·plain·a·bly, adverb
- un·ex·plained, adjective
- un·ex·plain·ing, adjective
- well-ex·plained, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use explain in a sentence
So don’t expect him to spout some hackneyed nostrums for success to explain an elixir-producing expedition that would make his Viking ancestors proud.When Dead Beer Walks: A Dane in Vietnam Turns Strange Brew Into Craft Gin | Eugene Robinson | February 12, 2021 | Ozy
He explained that the memo with the standard was written on “deadline” and that critics “rightly saw this as a threat to our journalism,” said sources present at the meeting.New York Times bails on intent-neutral standard when discussing epithets | Erik Wemple | February 11, 2021 | Washington Post
In a viral TikTok video, the Louisiana native explained that the adhesive in her hair wouldn’t budge after fifteen washes.Tessica Brown Successfully Removes Gorilla Glue Via Surgery | Jasmine Grant | February 11, 2021 | Essence.com
“Re-creating a scent is never enough,” said Dutch scent historian Caro Verbeek, explaining that together, storytelling and aroma can merge into a singularly powerful experience.Aromas can evoke beloved journeys — or voyages not yet taken | Jen Rose Smith | February 11, 2021 | Washington Post
Police explained Wednesday morning that their investigation could take several weeks as detective dissect the crash scene, interview witnesses and await laboratory results.As police continue probe of Britt Reid crash, 5-year-old remains in critical condition | Rick Maese | February 9, 2021 | Washington Post
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 | Luke O’Neil | January 8, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
I asked her to explain more about these “private customers.”Iran’s Becoming a Footloose Nation as Dance Lessons Spread | IranWire | January 2, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
After the curtain calls, Christopher comes back to explain a complicated math problem.Hedwig, Hugh & Michael Cera: 12 Powerhouse Theater Performances of 2014 | Janice Kaplan | December 31, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
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.
We stood staring after the fugitives in perfect bewilderment, totally unable to explain their apparently causeless panic.
How, then, are we to explain this extraordinary discrepancy between human power and resulting human happiness?The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice | Stephen Leacock
The pulse in Louis's temples beat hard; yet he was determined not to anticipate, but make Wharton explain himself.The Pastor's Fire-side Vol. 3 of 4 | Jane Porter
Would it not be more advisable to write to the London house itself, and explain the object of his coming up?
Father Fochel of the Cathedral had attempted to explain it; but he had not done so to her satisfaction.The Awakening and Selected Short Stories | Kate Chopin
British Dictionary definitions for explain
(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
- explainable, adjective
- explainer, noun
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