The Meaning of Explicit: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of explicit? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word explicit, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word explicit mean?

According to the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Collins English Dictionary, the word explicit is an adjective that means expressed or shown clearly and openly. This is also used in a pornographic sense to describe content that could be offensive because it contains nudity or profanity. Explicit is three syllables – ex-plic-it, and the pronunciation of explicit is ɪkˈsplɪsɪt. The verb form of explicit is explicate, and the noun form is explication. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an implication is something that is implied. The suffix ly can be used to form explicitly (adv.)

In maths, the term explicit means having an equation of the form y = f(x). The dependent variable is expressed directly in terms of the independent variables. Many things can be explicit, like an explicit belief, explicit act of violence, explicit terrors, explicit rejection of a key tool, explicit lyrics, and more.

According to Word Sense, many different languages also use words that mean explicit. You may notice that many of these translations of explicit look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that look and sound similar in different languages and also mean the same thing. These are often formed when two words have the same origin or root. 

  •  Arabic: صريح‎ (masc.)
  •  Czech: výslovný‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: explícito‎ (masc.)
  •  Danish: tydelig‎, bestemt‎, udstrykkelig‎, eksplicit‎
  •  Romanian: explicit‎, clar‎
  •  Persian: صریح‎ (sarih), واضح‎ (vâzeh)
  •  Tagalog: lantad‎
  •  Greek: ρητός‎ (masc.), σαφής‎ (masc.) (f)
  •  German: eindeutig‎, ausdrücklich‎, deutlich‎, explizit‎
  •  Dutch: expliciet‎, uitdrukkelijk‎
  •  Russian: я́сный‎, чёткий‎
  •  Bokmål: eksplisitt‎
  •  Nynorsk: eksplisitt‎
  •  Polish: szczegółowy‎, jasny‎, wprost‎
  •  Japanese: 明確‎ (meikaku), 明白‎ (meihaku), 明らか‎ (akiraka)
  •  Bulgarian: изричен‎
  •  Catalan: explícit‎
  •  Spanish: explícito‎
  •  Finnish: täsmällinen‎, selkeä‎, eksplisiittinen‎
  •  Swedish: uttrycklig‎, explicit‎

What is the origin of the word explicit?

According to Etymonline, the word explicit has been used since c17 to mean open to understanding. This comes from the French explicit, Old French explicite and the Latin explicitus, which is the variant past participle of explicare/explicāre meaning to unfold or unravel. This comes from the Latin prefix ex and the root plicare meaning to fold, from plicō, an alternative form of the past participle of explicāre. Medieval scribes in Late Latin would put this at the end of part of a manuscript or at the end of a book/conclusion of a book, which was short for explicitus est liber meaning “the book is unrolled.”

What are synonyms and antonyms of explicit?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word explicit. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful English grammatical devices to know because they can help you to avoid repeating yourself as well as to expand your vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word explicit is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  comprehensible
  •  unambiguous
  •  truthful
  •  frank
  •  clear-cut
  •  plain-spoken
  •  candid
  •  crystal clear
  •  overt
  •  intelligible
  •  open
  •  univocal
  •  self-evident
  •  sharp
  •  circumstantial
  •  absolute
  •  definite
  •  expressed
  •  unconditional
  •  exact
  •  unmistakable
  •  clearly
  •  definitive
  •  express
  •  obscene
  •  dirty
  •  uncensored
  •  firm
  •  determined
  •  flat
  •  undisguised
  •  rude
  •  apparent
  •  denotative
  •  coherent
  •  perspicuous
  •  determinate
  •  graphic
  •  lurid
  •  on the money
  •  limpid
  •  unreserved
  •  strict
  •  bald
  •  decided
  •  conclusive
  •  tangible
  •  correct
  •  manifest
  •  clearer
  •  hard-core
  •  outspoken
  •  evident
  •  distinct
  •  precise
  •  certain
  •  specific
  •  fixed
  •  pellucid
  •  direct
  •  indisputable
  •  defined
  •  visible
  •  clean-cut
  •  simple
  •  downright
  •  emphatic
  •  patent
  •  broad
  •  blatant
  •  unrestrained
  •  specifically
  •  clear
  •  denotive
  •  categorical
  •  unqualified
  •  sure
  •  outright
  •  lucid
  •  detailed
  •  palpable
  •  plain
  •  transparent
  •  honest
  •  well-defined
  •  positive
  •  forthright
  •  accurate
  •  literal
  •  particular
  •  understandable
  •  obvious
  •  filthy
  •  explicitly
  •  straightforward
  •  straight
  •  rigorous
  •  stated
  •  unequivocal
  •  blunt
  •  without reservations

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word explicit. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are trying to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms is also provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  inaccurate
  •  equivocal
  •  against the law
  •  incipit
  •  unclear
  •  ambiguous
  •  dubious
  •  implicit
  •  adopted
  •  imprecise
  •  unreliable
  •  difficult to understand
  •  hard to understand
  •  affected
  •  inscrutable
  •  open to dispute
  •  bewildering
  •  answerable
  •  beyond our ken
  •  untrue
  •  indefinite
  •  questionable
  •  unspecific
  •  inexact
  •  dark
  •  vague
  •  difficult to comprehend
  •  hard to comprehend
  •  incorrect
  •  ever-changing
  •  silent
  •  assumed
  •  cloak and dagger
  •  confused
  •  invalid
  •  iffy
  •  obscure
  •  inherent
  •  abstruse
  •  amorphous
  •  arguable
  •  addled
  •  uncertain
  •  unspoken
  •  one-size-fits-all
  •  abstinent
  •  artificial
  •  fuzzy
  •  academical
  •  baffling
  •  academic

How can the word explicit be used in a sentence?

The word explicit (adj.) can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also make flashcards or quizzes for yourself to test your knowledge of different words in the English language. Try using this word of the day in a  sentence today! Below are a few different examples of the word explicit to help get you started.

The explicit books were hidden in the adult section so curious hands could not read them accidentally.  These books contained sexual acts in graphic detail, as did the explicit movies that were in the adult section. The film footage also contained sexual activity.

The man had explicit knowledge that the witness was lying, and in accordance with court rules, had to say something. He knew that the Republicans attended in person gatherings at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday, which was not containing the virus’s spread as the fumbling witness Allen attested.

While she gave explicit consent for her quote to be used in the article, the journalist from Princeton University decided against it.

Overall, the word explicit means clear and open as its primary meaning, as well as graphic, inappropriate or sexual in nature. This word is Latin in origin.


  1. explicit: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. Explicit synonyms – 1 154 Words and Phrases for Explicit | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Explicit antonyms – 683 Opposites of Explicit | Power Thesaurus 
  4. Explicit definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  5. explicit | Origin and meaning of explicit | Online Etymology Dictionary