[in-tur-pri-tey-shuh n]
  1. the act of interpreting; elucidation; explication: This writer's work demands interpretation.
  2. an explanation of the meaning of another's artistic or creative work; an elucidation: an interpretation of a poem.
  3. a conception of another's behavior: a charitable interpretation of his tactlessness.
  4. a way of interpreting.
  5. the rendering of a dramatic part, music, etc., so as to bring out the meaning, or to indicate one's particular conception of it.
  6. oral translation.

Origin of interpretation

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin interpretātiōn- (stem of interpretātiō). See interpret, -ation
Related formsin·ter·pre·ta·tion·al, adjectivenon·in·ter·pre·ta·tion·al, adjectiveo·ver·in·ter·pre·ta·tion, nounpre·in·ter·pre·ta·tion, nounre·in·ter·pre·ta·tion, nounself-in·ter·pre·ta·tion, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for over-interpretation

Contemporary Examples of over-interpretation

  • But it is precisely the over-interpretation of the latter that could produce the former.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Palin Is the New McGovern

    Peter Beinart

    September 20, 2010

Historical Examples of over-interpretation

British Dictionary definitions for over-interpretation


  1. the act or process of interpreting or explaining; elucidation
  2. the result of interpreting; an explanation
  3. a particular view of an artistic work, esp as expressed by stylistic individuality in its performance
  4. explanation, as of the environment, a historical site, etc, provided by the use of original objects, personal experience, visual display material, etc
  5. logic an allocation of significance to the terms of a purely formal system, by specifying ranges for the variables, denotations for the individual constants, etc; a function from the formal language to such elements of a possible world
Derived Formsinterpretational, adjective
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 over-interpretation



mid-14c. (late 13c. in Anglo-French), from Old French interpretacion (12c.) and directly from Latin interpretationem (nominative interpretatio) "explanation, exposition," noun of action from past participle stem of interpretari (see interpret).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

over-interpretation in Medicine


  1. The act or process of explaining the meaning of something.
  2. A psychotherapist's explanation of the meaning of a patient's remarks, dreams, memories, experiences, and behavior.
Related formsin•terpret v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.