explain[ek splān′, ik-]
A man explains a document to his clients.
- An example of explain is for a teacher to show her students how to solve division problems.
- An example of explain is for a student to tell his teacher why he did not complete his homework last night.
- to make clear, plain, or understandable
- to give the meaning or interpretation of; expound
- to account for; state reasons for
Origin of explainMiddle English explanen ; from Classical Latin explanare, to flatten ; from ex-, out + planare, to make level ; from planus, level (see plane): spelling, spelled influenced, influence by plain
- to make clear what one means
- to give reasons justifying one's conduct
verbex·plained, ex·plain·ing, ex·plains
- To make plain or comprehensible.
- To define; expound: We explained our plan to the committee.
- a. To offer reasons for or a cause of; justify: explain an error.b. To offer reasons for the actions, beliefs, or remarks of (oneself).
Origin of explainMiddle English explanen, from Latin explānāre : ex-, intensive pref.; see ex– + plānus, clear; see pel&schwa;-2 in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present explains, present participle explaining, simple past and past participle explained)
- To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to illustrate the meaning of.
- To explain a chapter of the Bible.
- To give a valid excuse for some past behavior.
Middle English explanen, from Old French explaner, from Latin explanāre (“to flatten, to spread out, make plain or clear, explain”), from ex- (“out”) + planāre (“to flatten, make level”), from planus (“level, plain”); see plain and plane. Compare esplanade, splanade. Displaced native Middle English arecchen, irecchen (“to explain, expound”) (from Old English āreccan, ġereccan).