When your favorite band covers a classic tune, their version is their interpretation — their translation — of the music. Is it better than the original? That's up for interpretation.

Interpretation is the act of explaining, reframing, or otherwise showing your own understanding of something. A person who translates one language into another is called an interpreter because they are explaining what a person is saying to someone who doesn't understand. Interpretation requires you to first understand the piece of music, text, language, or idea, and then give your explanation of it. A computer may produce masses of data, but it will require your interpretation of the data for people to understand it.

Definitions of interpretation

n the act of interpreting something as expressed in an artistic performance

rendering, rendition
a new or different interpretation
a distinctive interpretation (especially as used by politicians to sway public opinion)
Type of:
the act of presenting a play or a piece of music or other entertainment

n an explanation that results from interpreting something

“the report included his interpretation of the forensic evidence”
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exposition, expounding
a systematic interpretation or explanation (usually written) of a specific topic
an interpretation of the meaning of something; the act of construing
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
the exposition (often superficially) of a particular philosophy
an imprecise or incomplete account
clarification that follows from the removal of ambiguity
a strictly literal interpretation (as distinct from the intention)
a very embarrassing misunderstanding
misconstrual, misconstruction
a kind of misinterpretation resulting from putting a wrong construction on words or actions (often deliberately)
misinterpretation caused by inaccurate reading
Type of:
account, explanation
a statement that makes something comprehensible by describing the relevant structure or operation or circumstances etc.

n an explanation of something that is not immediately obvious

“the edict was subject to many interpretations
interpreting, rendering, rendition
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)
Type of:
thought that makes something comprehensible

n a mental representation of the meaning or significance of something

reading, version
a new or different meaning
a mystical or allegorical interpretation (especially of Scripture)
Type of:
internal representation, mental representation, representation
a presentation to the mind in the form of an idea or image

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