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Borrowed from Latin explicāre, present active infinitive of explicō (unfold, explain).[1]



explicate (third-person singular simple present explicates, present participle explicating, simple past and past participle explicated)

  1. (transitive) To explain meticulously or in great detail.
    Synonyms: elucidate, analyze
    My homework is to explicate a poem.
    • 1969, Susan Sontag, “Persona”, in Styles of Radical Will, Penguin Modern Classics, published 2009, →ISBN:
      Alternatively, there is the possibility of an extended narration composed of events that are not (wholly) explicated but are, nevertheless, possible and may even have taken place.
    • 1989, Greil Marcus, “The Crash of Yesterday's Art”, in Lipstick Traces, Faber & Faber, published 2009:
      Isou himself, enemy of all conventional discourse, wrote hundreds, then thousands of pages explicating his theories; []
    • 2005 April 15, Michiko Kakutani, “The Plot Thins, or Are No Stories New?”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      In laying out these archetypes, Mr. Booker [] does a nimble job of collating dozens of stories, using the 34 years he says it took him to write this volume to identify and explicate all sorts of parallels and analogies that might not occur to the casual reader.

Related terms[edit]



explicate (comparative more explicate, superlative most explicate)

  1. (obsolete) Evolved; unfolded.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jeremy Taylor to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for explicate in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


  1. ^ Douglas Harper, “explicate”, in Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • explicate at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • explicate in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.



explicātē (not comparable)

  1. clearly, plainly



  1. second-person plural present active imperative of explicō


  • explicate in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879
  • explicate in Charlton T. Lewis, An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891
  • explicate in Gaffiot, Félix, Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette, 1934
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden, Latin Phrase-Book[2], London: Macmillan and Co., 1894
    • (ambiguous) to frown: frontem contrahere (opp. explicare)
    • (ambiguous) to give lectures: scholas habere, explicare (Fin. 2. 1. 1)
    • (ambiguous) to explain one's sentiments: sententias (verbis) explicare, aperire
    • (ambiguous) to give a full, detailed account of a thing: pluribus verbis, copiosius explicare, persequi aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to explain a matter briefly, in a few words (not paucis verbis): breviter, paucis explicare aliquid
    • (ambiguous) to open a book: volumen explicare
    • (ambiguous) to extend the line of battle, deploy the battalions: aciem explicare or dilatare