Printable Version
Pronunciation: ek-splê-kayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. To give a detailed analysis of something, explain at length. 2. Analyze logically in depth, develop the implications of.

Notes: We often use explicate as a fancy synonym of explain. The meaning of today's Good Word goes well beyond that. It implies a deeper understanding of the subject being explained. It comes with two nouns, explication and explicandum "that which is explicated". We also have three adjectives at our disposal: explicative, explicatory, and the passive explicable, which may be negated: inexplicable.

In Play: This word implies the explanation of a highly complex object: "After the plan had been explicated for the better part of an hour, no one understood it any better than before." It even careens occasionally toward analysis: "In his autobiography, Harry Wormser-Goode explicated his highly sophisticated palate of tastes."

Word History: This English word is based on the past participle, explicatus "unfolded, unfurled, uncoiled", of the verb explicare. Explicare is made up of ex- "out, un-" + plicare "to fold, furl, coil". Latin inherited the root of this word from PIE plek- "to plait", a suffixed form of pel- "to fold", whence also English fold. We see the extended form (plek-) in Greek plekein "to plait" and in English flax, which produces woven linen. It also shows up in Latin plexus "braid, plait", which English borrowed as a suffix in such words as duplex and multiplex. We also use the original, plexus, in referring to any complicated network, such as 'the plexus of economic issues'. (There is no explication of the lexical tastes of our Swedish friend Joakim Larsson, who recommended we do today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!