Meaning of DETAIL in English


1. a single piece of information

2. details about something

3. small details in a contract or set of rules

4. with a lot of details

5. not containing many details

6. not containing enough details

7. to add details to what you have said

8. too concerned with small details


see also




1. a single piece of information

▷ detail /ˈdiːteɪlǁdɪˈteɪl/ [countable noun usually plural]

a single fact or piece of information about something :

▪ The story’s very complicated - I can’t remember the exact details.

detail of

▪ The student advice office provides details of all the university courses in the country.

▪ Baker advises the President on the details of foreign policy.

personal details

details such as someone’s age, their address, whether they are married etc

▪ To apply for a loan, first fill in the section marked ‘Personal Details’.

full details

▪ For full details of this exclusive offer, just send in a stamped addressed envelope.

further details

▪ The donated liver came from the UK, but the hospital is giving no further details.

▷ point /pɔɪnt/ [countable noun]

a detail that you need to talk about when you are discussing a plan, statement, or written agreement :

▪ There’s one point in your letter that is not quite clear.

▪ Almost everything has been agreed. There is just one final point that needs to be settled.

small/minor point

one that is not very important

▪ We only have a few small points left to discuss.

▷ thing /θɪŋ/ [countable noun] spoken

a detail in something such as a plan, statement, or written agreement :

▪ There’s one thing I’m not clear about, and that’s how we are going to get to the airport.

▪ In the new version of the story, a few things have been changed.

2. details about something

▷ particulars /pəʳˈtɪkjɑləʳz/ [plural noun]

the exact details about a particular person, plan, agreement etc :

▪ I gave him all the particulars he needed: my name, address, and the name of the hospital where I work.

particulars of

▪ The treaty was signed despite some haggling over the particulars of each country’s stock of weapons.

take down somebody’s particulars

write down their personal details, for example their name and address

▪ After the police officer had taken down their particulars, the two men explained what had happened.

▷ specifics /spɪˈsɪfɪks, spəˈsɪfɪks/ [plural noun]

all the separate facts and details about something, especially an official proposal, contract, or statement :

▪ It ought to be possible for partners to disagree on specifics while agreeing in general terms.

specifics of

▪ Few of the specifics of James’ proposals were implemented.

get down to specifics

consider or talk about the details

▪ Now that we’ve agreed on the general principles of our policy, let’s get down to specifics.

▷ the ins and outs of something /ði ˌɪnz ənd ˈaʊts əv something/ [noun phrase] informal

all the exact details of something complicated :

▪ I can’t tell you all the ins and outs of the situation over the phone, I’ll write to you next week.

▪ I found I needed to spend quite a while learning all the ins and outs of the system.

▷ the nitty-gritty /ðə ˌnɪti ˈgrɪti/ [noun phrase] informal

the most important basic facts about something :

get down to the nitty-gritty

consider or discuss the most important basic facts

▪ You’ve got to get down to the nitty-gritty: how the stage will look, what the lighting will be like, and who designs the costumes.

the nitty-gritty details/issues

▪ Kennedy immersed himself in the nitty-gritty details of the prosecutions.

▷ technicalities /ˌteknɪˈkælətiz, ˌteknəˈkælətiz/ [plural noun]

technical details of something such as a system, process, or skill that you can only understand if you have special knowledge or training :

▪ He got a job at a printer’s and quickly learned the technicalities such as paper sizes and the processes involved.

technicalities of

▪ They discussed the technicalities of this delicate operation for some time.

▪ Although most of us do not know much about the technicalities of surveys, we have a broad idea of what they are about.

▷ the minutiae /ðə maɪˈnjuːʃiaɪǁ-mə̇ˈnuː-/ [plural noun] formal

very small and exact details that are not really important :

▪ Don’t get bogged down in factual minutiae.

the minutiae of

▪ He carefully recorded the minutiae of his social life in his diary.

3. small details in a contract or set of rules

▷ the small print /ðə ˈsmɔːl ˌprɪnt/ [noun phrase]

details that are included in a contract or agreement and are written in small print, with the result that people do not always notice them :

▪ I’m afraid you can’t cancel your contract now. You should have read the small print.

▪ A close study of the small print will reveal that many of these insurance policies do not cover the cost of repairing storm damage.

▷ technicality /ˌteknɪˈkæləti, ˌteknəˈkæləti/ [countable noun usually singular]

a small detail in a set of rules or a law, especially one on which a decision is based :

▪ The vote was declared invalid because of a technicality.

on a technicality

because of a technicality

▪ Baxter was released on a technicality because his ‘offence’ was committed in the city, and only a city judge had the authority to sign the warrant.

4. with a lot of details

▷ detailed /ˈdiːteɪldǁdɪˈteɪld/ [adjective]

a detailed description, explanation, picture etc contains a lot of details :

▪ The police have issued a detailed description of the man they are looking for.

▪ Do you have a more detailed map of the area?

▪ Her biography is clear, detailed, and illuminating.

▷ in detail /ɪn ˈdiːteɪlǁ-dɪˈteɪl/ [adverb]

if you discuss or consider something in detail, you discuss or consider all the details :

▪ I haven’t had time to look at the plans in detail yet.

in more/greater detail

▪ This problem is discussed in more detail in Chapter 7.

in great detail

▪ Fortunately, she was able to describe her attacker in great detail.

in some detail

▪ The layout of the house had been described to me in some detail.

▷ elaborate /ɪˈlæb ə rət/ [adjective]

carefully produced and full of details :

▪ The diaries have been published in one volume, with elaborate biographical notes by Professor Emson.

▪ The lawyer had concocted an elaborate defence that gave a totally false impression of what happened.

an elaborate excuse

▪ She had prepared an elaborate excuse for her absence.

▷ go into detail/details /ˌgəʊ ɪntə ˈdiːteɪl(z)ǁ-dɪˈteɪl(z)/ [verb phrase]

to include a lot of details when you are describing or explaining something :

▪ Without going into detail, I can tell you that we have had a very successful year.

▪ Be brief. If you go into too much detail people will get bored.

▪ Chapter 1 is a brief outline of the process, then the next chapter goes into all the technical details.

▷ specify /ˈspesɪfaɪ, ˈspesəfaɪ/ [transitive verb]

to state something exactly and with full details, so that what you want, what must be done etc is completely clear :

▪ The order specifies a December deadline for completion of the work.

specify that

▪ The rules clearly specify that competitors are not allowed to accept payment.

specify which/where/ how etc

▪ Architects usually specify which particular hardwood they want to use.

▷ blow-by-blow account /ˌbləʊ baɪ bləʊ əˈkaʊnt/ [noun phrase]

a full and detailed description of an event, in which everything that happened is described in correct order - use this especially when you want to say that this is boring and unnecessary :

▪ His memoirs are simply a blow-by-blow account of battles, and contain very little personal comment or reflection.

▷ in-depth /ˌɪn ˈdepθ◂/ [adjective]

thorough, and giving as much detail as possible :

▪ The committee has ordered an in-depth study of juvenile crime.

▪ We shall be conducting a series of in-depth interviews with economic experts.

▪ The aim of the neighbourhood studies was to obtain in-depth information from a number of selected communities.

5. not containing many details

▷ general /ˈdʒen ə rəl/ [adjective only before noun]

a general description or explanation of something contains the most basic information but does not include all the details :

▪ The course is called ‘A General Introduction to Computing’.

▪ This general description of the countryside oversimplifies what is really a very complicated pattern of soils and climate.

a general idea

basic knowledge

▪ This guidebook will give you a good general idea of the city.

▷ rough /rʌf/ [adjective only before noun]

not exact or complete, but with enough details for you to understand something :

rough plan/outline etc

▪ We’ve drawn up a rough plan but we haven’t worked out all the costs.

▪ I have not been able to do more than suggest the rough outline of this approach.

a rough idea

a basic explanation or understanding

▪ Give us a rough idea of what you’re trying to do.

▷ broad /brɔːd/ [adjective only before noun]

broad outline/generalization etc

giving you basic information, so that you can understand a situation, but not giving many details :

▪ Can you give me a broad outline of what the speech was about?

▪ It’s only a short course, but it’s enough to give you a broad understanding of the subject.

▪ To say that people are healthier than they used to be is a broad generalization -- the reality is a little more complex.

▷ outline /ˈaʊtlaɪn/ [adjective only before noun]

outline knowledge/agreement/approval etc

based on general principles, not on exact details :

▪ Students taking this course need to have at least an outline knowledge of computing.

▪ The two leaders have reached an outline agreement on controlling short range nuclear weapons.

▷ not go into detail /nɒt gəʊ ɪntə ˈdiːteɪlǁ-dɪˈteɪl/ [verb phrase]

if you do not go into detail when you are telling someone about something, you only give them the basic facts, without any details :

▪ It was only a quick explanation - he didn’t really go into detail.

6. not containing enough details

▷ vague /veɪg/ [adjective]

something that is vague is not clear because it does not provide enough details :

▪ Dave’s instructions were rather vague.

▪ I had heard vague rumours that they were getting married.

▷ sketchy /ˈsketʃi/ [adjective]

something that is sketchy is not thorough or complete enough because it lacks details :

▪ It would be very unwise to change our policy on the basis of such a sketchy report.

▪ I’m afraid my knowledge of the subject is rather sketchy.

▷ thin /θɪn/ [adjective not before noun]

a piece of information or a description that is thin is not detailed enough to be useful or effective :

▪ I was disappointed with your history essay, it seemed a little thin in terms of content.

▪ I’m afraid the evidence is really too thin as it stands. We need to investigate further.

7. to add details to what you have said

▷ give (somebody) more details /ˌgɪv somebody mɔːʳ ˈdiːteɪlzǁ-dɪˈteɪlz/ [verb phrase]

to give more information about something by adding details to what you have already said or written :

▪ Can you give me more details about the cost of these courses, please?

▪ The press officer was unable to give any more details about the assassination attempt.

▷ expand on/enlarge on /ɪkˈspænd ɒn , ɪnˈlɑːʳdʒ ɒn/ [transitive phrasal verb] formal

to provide more information about something in order to make it easier for someone to understand :

▪ Could you expand on your last comment, please?

▪ When asked to expand on his accusations of injustice, the journalist refused to say any more.

▪ I was unsure whether this was meant as an insult or a compliment, but he didn’t choose to enlarge on his remark.

▷ go into more/greater detail /ˌgəʊ ɪntə ˌmɔːʳ, ˌgreɪtəʳ ˈdiːteɪlǁ-dɪˈteɪl/ [verb phrase]

to give someone more details about something than you have already said or written :

▪ I don’t have time to go into more detail. Perhaps we could talk about this tomorrow.

▪ I would like you to tell your story to my colleagues, and they may want you to go into greater detail.

go into more/greater detail about

▪ Her talk was interesting, but I wish she’d gone into more detail about the early part of her career.

▷ be more specific/be more explicit /biː ˌmɔːʳ spə̇ˈsɪfɪk, biː ˌmɔːr ɪkˈsplɪsə̇t/ [verb phrase]

to give much clearer and more detailed information about something, especially when you have been asked to do this :

▪ I don’t understand what your plan is exactly. Could you be a little more specific?

be more specific/be more explicit about

▪ The main political parties need to be much more explicit about their policies for the environment.

▷ elaborate /ɪˈlæb ə reɪt/ [intransitive/transitive verb] formal

to provide more details about something that you have said or written, especially in order to make it easier to understand :

▪ What exactly do you mean by ‘traditional education’? Would you care to elaborate?

elaborate on/upon

▪ I would like now to elaborate upon the points raised in my introduction.

elaborate an argument/point etc

▪ This argument will be elaborated more fully in the next chapter.

▷ specifically /spɪˈsɪfɪkli, spəˈsɪfɪkli/ [adverb]

use this to add a particular detail or example to what you are already saying, so that people know exactly what you are going to talk about :

▪ In the next chapter I want to explore the question of the cultural boundaries between different subjects. Specifically I will look at what we mean by the terms ‘art’ and ‘science’.

8. too concerned with small details

▷ pedantic /pɪˈdæntɪk/ [adjective]

too concerned with rules and details that most people do not think are important :

▪ Don’t be so pedantic - does it really matter if I don’t pronounce it right?

▪ The papers were stacked with pedantic neatness on his desk.

▪ The booklet that accompanies the CD is informative and scholarly, without being pedantic.

▷ fussy /ˈfʌsi/ [adjective]

someone who is fussy is too concerned with unimportant details of correctness, neatness, comfort etc and is hard to please :

▪ My grandmother was a notoriously fussy housekeeper.

▪ Although he spent three years writing these songs, the album does not sound fussy or labored.

fussy about

▪ He’s very fussy about his drinks being served in the right kind of glass.

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