American English

Definition of explain verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they explain
    he / she / it explains
    past simple explained
    -ing form explaining
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  1. 1[transitive, intransitive] to tell someone about something in a way that makes it easy to understand explain (something) (to somebody) First, I'll explain the rules of the game. It was difficult to explain the problem to beginners. “I'll be happy to explain,” he added helpfully. explain that… I explained that an ambulance would be coming soon. explain who, how, etc… He explained who each person in the photo was. Can you explain how the e-mail system works? explain to somebody who, how, etc… She explained to them what to do in an emergency. + speech “It works like this,” she explained.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] to give a reason, or be a reason, for something She tried to explain but he wouldn't listen. explain that… Alex explained that his car had broken down. explain why, how, etc… Well, that doesn't explain why you didn't call. explain something (to somebody) scientific findings that help explain the origins of the universe The government now has to explain its decision to the public. (informal) Oh well then, that explains it (= I understand now why something happened). You cannot say “explain me, him, her, etc.”:Can you explain the situation to me?Can you explain me the situation?I'll explain to you why I like it.I'll explain you why I like it.
  3. Word Familyexplain verbexplanation nounexplanatory adjectiveexplicable adjective (inexplicable)explain verbexplanation nounexplanatory adjectiveexplicable adjective (inexplicable)Idioms
      explain yourself
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    1. 1to give someone reasons for your behavior, especially when they are angry or upset because of it I really don't see why I should have to explain myself to you.
    2. 2to say what you mean in a clear way Could you explain yourself a little more—I didn't understand.
    Phrasal Verbsexplain somethingaway
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: explain

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