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See more synonyms for explanation on Thesaurus.com
  1. the act or process of explaining.
  2. something that explains; a statement made to clarify something and make it understandable; exposition: an explanation of a poem.
  3. a meaning or interpretation: to find an explanation for a mystery.
  4. a mutual declaration of the meaning of words spoken, actions, motives, etc., with a view to adjusting a misunderstanding or reconciling differences: After a long and emotional explanation they were friends again.
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Origin of explanation

1350–1400; Middle English explanacioun < Latin explānātiōn- (stem of explānātiō), equivalent to explānāt(us) (see explanate) + -iōn- -ion
Related formso·ver·ex·pla·na·tion, nounpre·ex·pla·na·tion, nounre·ex·pla·na·tion, noun

Synonyms for explanation

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for explanation

comment, interpretation, confession, evidence, motive, sense, information, story, note, statement, answer, commentary, cause, justification, description, excuse, meaning, report, definition, account

Examples from the Web for explanation

Contemporary Examples of explanation

Historical Examples of explanation

  • He started at the words, and looked eagerly in her face for an explanation.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • There could probably be no concealment, certainly no explanation.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Harry turned to Philip and spoke to him, shouting in his ear the explanation.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • "I can't tell you what I mean," he was saying in explanation.

  • There must have been a sound, and he glanced over to the trapper for an explanation.

British Dictionary definitions for explanation


  1. the act or process of explaining
  2. a statement or occurrence that explains
  3. a clarification of disputed terms or points; reconciliation
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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

Word Origin and History for explanation


late 14c., from Latin explanationem (nominative explanatio), noun of action from past participle stem of explanare "to make plain or clear, explain," literally "make level, flatten," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + planus "flat" (see plane (n.1)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper