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[ik-splis-it] /ɪkˈsplɪs ɪt/
fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal:
explicit instructions; an explicit act of violence; explicit language.
clearly developed or formulated:
explicit knowledge; explicit belief.
definite and unreserved in expression; outspoken:
He was quite explicit as to what he expected us to do for him.
described or shown in realistic detail:
explicit sexual scenes.
having sexual acts or nudity clearly depicted:
explicit movies; explicit books.
Mathematics. (of a function) having the dependent variable expressed directly in terms of the independent variables, as y = 3 x + 4.
Compare implicit (def 4).
Origin of explicit
1605-15; < Latin explicitus unfolded, set forth, variant past participle of explicāre. See explicate
Related forms
explicitly, adverb
explicitness, noun
overexplicit, adjective
quasi-explicit, adjective
quasi-explicitly, adverb
superexplicit, adjective
superexplicitly, adverb
unexplicit, adjective
unexplicitly, adverb
Can be confused
explicit, implicit, implied.
1. express, definite, precise, exact, unambiguous. 3. open, forthright, unabashed.
1. indefinite, ambiguous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for explicit
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And somehow the tone had more tenderness in it, though it was so explicit. '

    The Two Sides of the Shield Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I will be explicit; I will use the indicative mood, present tense.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • That she should be thus compelled to be explicit was more than Lady Pelham's temper could endure.

    Self-control Mary Brunton
  • These orders are so explicit that there is no room to question what they mean.

    Things as They Are Amy Wilson-Carmichael
  • It often exists, implicit or explicit, in that part of the verse which sings because it must and for sheer love of itself.

British Dictionary definitions for explicit


precisely and clearly expressed, leaving nothing to implication; fully stated: explicit instructions
graphically detailed, leaving little to the imagination: sexually explicit scenes
openly expressed without reservations; unreserved
(maths) (of a function) having an equation of the form y=f(x), in which y is expressed directly in terms of x, as in y=x4 + x + z Compare implicit (sense 4)
Derived Forms
explicitly, adverb
explicitness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin explicitus unfolded, from explicāre; see explicate


the end; an indication, used esp by medieval scribes, of the end of a book, part of a manuscript, etc
Word Origin
Late Latin, probably short for explicitus est liber the book is unfolded (or complete); shortened by analogy with incipit
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 explicit

c.1600, from French explicite, from Latin explicitus "unobstructed," variant past participle of explicare "unfold, unravel, explain," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + plicare "to fold" (see ply (v.1)).

"Explicitus" was written at the end of medieval books, originally short for explicitus est liber "the book is unrolled." As a euphemism for "pornographic" it dates from 1971.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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