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explain

[ik-spleyn] /ɪkˈspleɪn/
verb (used with object)
1.
to make plain or clear; render understandable or intelligible:
to explain an obscure point.
Synonyms: explicate.
Antonyms: confuse.
2.
to make known in detail:
to explain how to do something.
3.
to assign a meaning to; interpret:
How can you explain such a silly remark?
4.
to make clear the cause or reason of; account for:
I cannot explain his strange behavior.
Synonyms: justify.
verb (used without object)
5.
to give an explanation.
Verb phrases
6.
explain away,
  1. to diminish or nullify the significance of by explanation:
    He couldn't explain away his absence from home at the time the robbery was committed.
  2. to dispel (doubts, difficulties, etc.) by explanation:
    She explained away the child's fears.
Origin
late Middle English
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English explanen < Latin explānāre to smooth out, make intelligible, spread out on flat surface. See ex-1, plane1
Related forms
explainable, adjective
explainer, explanator
[ek-spluh-ney-ter] /ˈɛk spləˌneɪ tər/ (Show IPA),
noun
misexplained, adjective
nonexplainable, adjective
overexplain, verb
preexplain, verb
reexplain, verb (used with object)
unexplainable, adjective
unexplainably, adverb
unexplained, adjective
unexplaining, adjective
well-explained, adjective
Synonym Study
1. Explain, elucidate, expound, interpret imply making the meaning of something clear or understandable. To explain is to make plain, clear, or intelligible something that is not known or understood: to explain a theory or a problem. To elucidate is to throw light on what before was dark and obscure, usually by illustration and commentary and sometimes by elaborate explanation: They asked him to elucidate his statement. To expound is to give a methodical, detailed, scholarly explanation of something, usually Scriptures, doctrines, or philosophy: to expound the doctrine of free will. To interpret is to give the meaning of something by paraphrase, by translation, or by an explanation based on personal opinion: to interpret a poem or a symbol.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for explained
  • The escalating size of these histories is easily explained.
  • The bank's economists first calculated how much growth was explained by a bigger workforce and how much by more plant.
  • Some anomalies can be explained by variations of both phenomena.
  • However, they have had mixed success, leading sceptics to question whether there was anything to be explained.
  • And because there is no particular limit to what can be explained, explanations are infinite.
  • The fracas could easily be explained as a management tiff, but there are some wrinkles.
  • The surprising weakness was caused in part by unusually cold weather but it is not fully explained by it.
  • Exactly why they would be unable to interbreed, though, was never explained in detail.
  • It had a head start, he explained, because of all the government there.
  • It's charming to watch and so simply explained that you're almost fooled into thinking you knew this material already.
British Dictionary definitions for explained

explain

/ɪkˈspleɪn/
verb
1.
(when transitive, may take a clause as object) to make (something) comprehensible, esp by giving a clear and detailed account of the relevant structure, operation, surrounding circumstances, etc
2.
(transitive) to justify or attempt to justify (oneself) by giving reasons for one's actions or words
Derived Forms
explainable, adjective
explainer, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin explānāre to flatten, from plānus level
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
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Word Origin and History for explained

explain

v.

early 15c., from Latin explanare "to make level, smooth out;" also "to explain, make clear" (see explanation).

Originally explane, spelling altered by influence of plain. Also see plane (v.2). In 17c., occasionally used more literally, of the unfolding of material things: Evelyn has buds that "explain into leaves" ["Sylva, or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesties dominions," 1664]. Related: Explained; explaining; explains.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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