[ in-tur-prit ]
See synonyms for: interpretinterpretedinterpreting on

verb (used with object)
  1. to give or provide the meaning of; explain; explicate; elucidate: to interpret the hidden meaning of a parable.

  2. to construe or understand in a particular way: to interpret a reply as favorable.

  1. to bring out the meaning of (a dramatic work, music, etc.) by performance or execution.

  2. to perform or render (a song, role in a play, etc.) according to one's own understanding or sensitivity: The actor interpreted Lear as a weak, pitiful old man.

  3. to translate orally.

  4. Computers. : See also interpreter (def. 3).

    • to use an interpreter to transform (a program written in a high-level language) into a sequence of machine actions, one statement at a time, executing each statement immediately before going on to transform the next one.

    • to read (the patterns of holes in punched cards) with an interpreter, printing the interpreted data on the same cards so that they can be read more conveniently by people.

verb (used without object)
  1. to translate what is said in a foreign language.

  2. to explain something; give an explanation.

Origin of interpret

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English interpreten, from Latin interpretārī, derivative of interpret-, stem of interpres “explainer”

Other words from interpret

  • in·ter·pret·a·ble, adjective
  • in·ter·pret·a·bil·i·ty, in·ter·pret·a·ble·ness, noun
  • in·ter·pret·a·bly, adverb
  • non·in·ter·pret·a·bil·i·ty, noun
  • non·in·ter·pret·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·in·ter·pret, verb (used with object)
  • re·in·ter·pret, verb
  • self-in·ter·pret·ed, adjective
  • self-in·ter·pret·ing, adjective
  • un·in·ter·pret·a·ble, adjective
  • un·in·ter·pret·ed, adjective
  • well-in·ter·pret·ed, adjective

Words Nearby interpret Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use interpret in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for interpret


/ (ɪnˈtɜːprɪt) /

  1. (tr) to clarify or explain the meaning of; elucidate

  2. (tr) to construe the significance or intention of: to interpret a smile as an invitation

  1. (tr) to convey or represent the spirit or meaning of (a poem, song, etc) in performance

  2. (intr) to act as an interpreter; translate orally

Origin of interpret

C14: from Latin interpretārī, from interpres negotiator, one who explains, from inter- + -pres, probably related to pretium price

Derived forms of interpret

  • interpretable, adjective
  • interpretability or interpretableness, noun
  • interpretably, adverb

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