• IPA: /ɪkˈspleɪn/, /ɛkˈspleɪn/

explain (explains, present participle explaining; past and past participle explained)

  1. To make plain, manifest, or intelligible; to clear of obscurity; to illustrate the meaning of.
    To explain a chapter of the Bible.
    • 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter I, in The Squire’s Daughter, London: Methuen, OCLC 12026604 ↗; republished New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1919, OCLC 491297620 ↗:
      The boy became volubly friendly and bubbling over with unexpected humour and high spirits. He tried to persuade Cicely to stay away from the ball-room for a fourth dance. Nobody would miss them, he explained.
  2. To give a valid excuse for past behavior.
  3. (obsolete) To make flat, smooth out.
  4. (obsolete) To unfold or make visible.
    • The horse-chestnut is […] ready to explain its leaf.
  5. (intransitive) To make something plain or intelligible.
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