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.
1510s, from L. explanare "to make level, smooth out;" also "to explain, make clear" (see explanation). Originally explane, spelling altered by influence of plain. 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.