The term “explain” comes from the Latin word “explanare,” which means “to make plain” or “to flatten out.” This is derived from the Latin roots “ex-” meaning “out” or “thoroughly” and “planus,” meaning “flat” or “clear.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*pele-” means “flat” or “to spread.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “planus” developed, meaning “flat” or “clear.” The prefix “ex-” (out or thoroughly) was combined with “planus,” forming “explanare,” meaning “to make plain” or “to make clear.”

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “explanare” evolved into Old French “explainier,” meaning “to explain” or “to make clear.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “explainier” was adopted into Middle English as “explainen,” retaining the meaning of “to make clear” or “to interpret.”

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “explain” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, retaining the meaning of “to make clear” or “to describe in detail.”

Phonetic Evolution

Over time, the pronunciation of “explain” has remained relatively stable from Old French to Modern English.

Usage Examples

  • “Explain is often used to describe the act of making something clear or understandable.”
  • “Another example of ‘explain’ in a sentence is ‘The teacher took time to explain the difficult concept to her students.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “explain” was significantly influenced by its use in various contexts, including education, communication, and problem-solving. Explanation has been essential in teaching, learning, and conveying information.

The word “explain” reflects the concept of making something clear or understandable, emphasizing the importance of clarity, communication, and understanding. It underscores the role of explanation in education, effective communication, and the transfer of knowledge, helping individuals to understand complex ideas and processes.