Meaning of EXPLAIN in English
ex ‧ plain S1 W1 /ɪkˈspleɪn/ BrE AmE verb [intransitive and transitive]
[ Word Family: adjective : ↑ unexplained , ↑ explanatory , ↑ explicable ≠ ↑ inexplicable ; noun : explaining, ↑ explanation ; verb : ↑ explain ; adverb : ↑ inexplicably ]
[ Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: Latin ; Origin: explanare 'to make level, unfold' , from planus 'level, flat' ]
1 . to tell someone about something in a way that is clear or easy to understand:
He carefully explained the procedure.
explain (to somebody) why/how/what etc
The librarian will explain how to use the catalogue system.
Let me explain what I mean.
He explained that it had been a difficult film to make.
explain something to somebody
I explained the situation to my bank manager.
► You explain something to someone : He explained the system to me (NOT explained me the system).
2 . to give a reason for something or to be a reason for something:
Wait! I can explain everything.
How can you explain that sort of behaviour?
She explained that she had been ill.
explain why/how/what etc
I’ll explain why I don’t believe your story.
That still doesn’t explain how he was able to hide the body.
3 . explain yourself
a) to tell someone who is angry or upset with you the reasons why you did something:
I’m going to give you five seconds to explain yourself.
b) to say clearly what you mean:
Sorry, I’m not explaining myself very well.
• • •
▪ explain to give someone the information they need to understand something:
She explained how to use the software.
Doctors usually explain the risks of the treatment to patients.
▪ tell to explain something. People often use tell instead of explain in everyday conversation:
He told me how to get to his house.
The book tells you how to improve your health through diet.
▪ show to explain to someone how to do something by doing it while they watch you:
Ellen showed me how to work the coffee maker.
▪ demonstrate /ˈdemənstreɪt/ to explain to someone how to do something by doing it while they watch you, especially when it is part of your job:
The cabin crew demonstrated the safety procedures to the passengers.
A qualified instructor will demonstrate how to use the equipment properly.
▪ go through something to explain something carefully, especially one step at a time:
Mrs. Riddell went through the homework assignment.
▪ set out something to explain a series of ideas, reasons or opinions in an organized way in writing or in a speech:
In his speech, he intended to set out the party’s policies on education.
explain something ↔ away phrasal verb
to make something seem less important or bad by giving reasons for it:
The difference in the treatment they receive is hard to explain away.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Longman - Словарь современного английского языка. 2012