An explanation is a statement about how or why something is the way it is. If you're failing math, you'd better come up with a good explanation to give to your parents.

Explanation is from the same Latin word as explain: explanare, which means make clear. Because explanation and explain are so closely related, people often try to shoehorn an extra i into the spelling of explanation. Don't. You might think that explanation has the odd spelling, but it is really the more regular of the two because there is no i in explanare.

Definitions of explanation

n the act of explaining; making something plain or intelligible

“I heard his explanation of the accident”
an act of explaining that serves to clear up and cast light on
the act of making clear or removing obscurity from the meaning of a word or symbol or expression etc.
Type of:
speech act
the use of language to perform some act

n a statement that makes something comprehensible by describing the relevant structure or operation or circumstances etc.

“the explanation was very simple”
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an explanation that omits superfluous details and reduces complexity
a convincing explanation that reveals basic causes
an explanation of the cause of some phenomenon
a statement in explanation of some action or belief
an account that sets forth the meaning or intent of a writing or discourse
a detailed explanation of the meaning of something
gloss, rubric
an explanation or definition of an obscure word in a text
derivation, deriving, etymologizing
(historical linguistics) an explanation of the historical origins of a word or phrase
a concise explanation of the meaning of a word or phrase or symbol
an explanation that results from interpreting something
a thorough explanation (usually accompanied by a demonstration) of each step in a procedure or process
oversimplification, simplism
a simplification that goes too far (to the point of misrepresentation)
cause, grounds, reason
a justification for something existing or happening
defence, defense, vindication
the justification for some act or belief
exposition, expounding
a systematic interpretation or explanation (usually written) of a specific topic
an interpretation of the meaning of something; the act of construing
contextual definition
a definition in which the term is used by embedding it in a larger expression containing its explanation
dictionary definition
a definition that reports the standard uses of a word or phrase or symbol
explicit definition
a definition that gives an exact equivalent of the term defined
ostensive definition
a definition that points out or exhibits instances of the term defined
recursive definition
(mathematics) a definition of a function from which values of the function can be calculated in a finite number of steps
the act of giving a new definition
stipulative definition
a definition that is stipulated by someone and that is not a standard usage
clarification, elucidation, illumination
an interpretation that removes obstacles to understanding
personal interpretation of a text (especially of the Bible) using your own ideas
an explanation or critical interpretation (especially of the Bible)
the endeavor of a Moslem scholar to derive a rule of divine law from the Koran and Hadith without relying on the views of other scholars; by the end of the 10th century theologians decided that debate on such matters would be closed and Muslim theology and law were frozen
literal interpretation
an interpretation based on the exact wording
an interpretation of a matter from a particular viewpoint
a particular interpretation or performance
construction, twist
an interpretation of a text or action
an interpretation formed by piecing together bits of evidence
popularisation, popularization
an interpretation that easily understandable and acceptable
misinterpretation, mistaking, misunderstanding
putting the wrong interpretation on
Type of:
a message that is stated or declared; a communication (oral or written) setting forth particulars or facts etc

n thought that makes something comprehensible

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interpretation, interpreting, rendering, rendition
an explanation of something that is not immediately obvious
principle, rationale
(law) an explanation of the fundamental reasons (especially an explanation of the working of some device in terms of laws of nature)
something crucial for explaining
rationalisation, rationalization
the cognitive process of making something seem consistent with or based on reason
a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena
broad interpretation, judicial activism
an interpretation of the U.S. constitution holding that the spirit of the times and the needs of the nation can legitimately influence judicial decisions (particularly decisions of the Supreme Court)
a theory that all complex systems can be completely understood in terms of their components
raison d'etre
reason for being
theory that inherited characteristics are transmitted by germ plasm
preformation, theory of preformation
a theory (popular in the 18th century and now discredited) that an individual develops by simple enlargement of a tiny fully formed organism (a homunculus) that exists in the germ cell
scientific theory
a theory that explains scientific observations
field theory
(physics) a theory that explains a physical phenomenon in terms of a field and the manner in which it interacts with matter or with other fields
economic theory
(economics) a theory of commercial activities (such as the production and consumption of goods)
atomic theory, atomism, atomist theory, atomistic theory
(chemistry) any theory in which all matter is composed of tiny discrete finite indivisible indestructible particles
holism, holistic theory
the theory that the parts of any whole cannot exist and cannot be understood except in their relation to the whole
a rationale for dialectical materialism based on change through the conflict of opposing forces
structural sociology, structuralism
a sociological theory based on the premise that society comes before individuals
structural anthropology, structuralism
an anthropological theory that there are unobservable social structures that generate observable social phenomena
Type of:
cerebration, intellection, mentation, thinking, thought, thought process
the process of using your mind to consider something carefully

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