from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- transitive v. To make plain or comprehensible.
- transitive v. To define; expound: We explained our plan to the committee.
- transitive v. To offer reasons for or a cause of; justify: explain an error.
- transitive v. To offer reasons for the actions, beliefs, or remarks of (oneself).
- intransitive v. To make something plain or comprehensible: Let me explain.
- explain away To dismiss or get rid of by or as if by explaining.
- explain away To minimize by explanation.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- v. To give a sufficiently detailed report about (a) the reason for something, about why something happened, about a causal chain of events; about (b) how something works, about how elements in a system interact; about (c) how to do something, about the steps which need to be accomplished in order to accomplish a certain goal.
- v. To give a valid excuse for some past behavior.
- v. To make flat, smooth out.
- v. To unfold or make visible.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- transitive v. To flatten; to spread out; to unfold; to expand.
- transitive v. To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to expound; to unfold and illustrate the meaning of.
- intransitive v. To give an explanation.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- To make plain or flat; spread out in a flattened form; unfold.
- To make plain or clear to the mind; render intelligible; unfold, analyze, state, or describe in such a manner as to make evident to the minds of others; exhibit the nature, meaning, or significance of; interpret; elucidate; expound.
- To exhibit, disclose, or state the grounds or causes of the existence or occurrence of; reveal or state the causal or logical antecedents or conditions of; account for.
- Synonyms Explain, Expound, Interpret, Elucidate. Explain is the most general of these words, and means to make plain, clear, and intelligible. Expound is used of elaborate, formal, or methodical explanation: as, to expound a text, the law, the philosophy of Aristotle. To interpret is to explain, as if from a foreign language, to make clear what before was dark, and generally by following the original closely, as word by word and line by line: as, to interpret Hegel, Swedenborg, Emerson. To elucidate is to bring or work out into the light that which before was dark, usually by means of illustration; the word generally implies, like expound, a somewhat protracted or elaborate process. See translate.
- To give explanations.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- v. serve as a reason or cause or justification of
- v. make plain and comprehensible
- v. define
Middle English explanen, from Latin explānāre : ex-, intensive pref.; see ex- + plānus, clear; see pelə-2 in Indo-European roots.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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). (Wiktionary)