[self-ik-splan-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee, self-]


explaining itself; needing no explanation; obvious.

Also self-ex·plain·ing [self-ik-spley-ning, self-] /ˈsɛlf ɪkˈspleɪ nɪŋ, ˌsɛlf-/.

Origin of self-explanatory

First recorded in 1895–1900 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for self-explanatory

clear, distinct, evident, manifest, plain, unmistakable

Examples from the Web for self-explanatory

Contemporary Examples of self-explanatory

  • Second - (This was a reaction to the parsing of the word "heckling") And this - well that one is self-explanatory.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Newtown Heckling Controversy

    David Frum

    January 30, 2013

  • Among her self-explanatory titles: Her First Lesbian Sex 14, T and A Buffet, and Barefoot Confidential 44.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Weiner Porn Star’s Mystery Past

    Richard Abowitz

    June 16, 2011

Historical Examples of self-explanatory

  • Then there is a "two-day stand" and a "one-night stand," which are self-explanatory.

  • The second method of committing the slicing sin is self-explanatory.

  • Not a bad-looking woman, of a sort, but not self-explanatory.

    It Never Can Happen Again

    William De Morgan

  • In our economic experience, no more than elsewhere, is satisfaction an ultimate and self-explanatory term.

    Creative Intelligence

    John Dewey, Addison W. Moore, Harold Chapman Brown, George H. Mead, Boyd H. Bode, Henry Waldgrave, Stuart James, Hayden Tufts, Horace M. Kallen

  • The name is self-explanatory and suggests a well-colored meerschaum.

    The Complete Book of Cheese

    Robert Carlton Brown

British Dictionary definitions for self-explanatory


less commonly self-explaining


understandable without explanation; self-evident
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 self-explanatory

1813, from self- + explanatory.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper