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at great length

For a long duration. When I came home after curfew, my mom interrogated me at great length. He spoke at great length about how he had been inspired by his trip.
See also: great, length

explain (oneself)

1. verb To clarify something that one has said or done. I'm sorry, I didn't quite follow your line of thinking—can you explain yourself?
2. verb To explain why one has done something, usually something bad or wrong. Often used as an imperative in the phrase "explain yourself." Now that they caught me plagiarizing, I'm going to have to explain myself before a disciplinary committee. Explain yourself—what could have possibly convinced you that it was OK to plagiarize your paper?
See also: explain

explain away

To try to minimize a problem or issue through explanation. A noun or pronoun can be used between "explain" and "away." He's trying to explain it away, but I know he lied to me.
See also: away, explain

explain (someone or something) to (one)

To attempt to improve one's understanding of someone or something through explanation. Please explain Claire to me because I can't understand some of the wacky things she's done. Can you explain this chapter to me? I just don't get it.
See also: explain

*at great length

for a long period of time. (*Typically: explain ~; question someone ~; speak ~.) The lawyer questioned the witness at great length.
See also: great, length

explain (oneself)

1. to explain what one has said or done or what one thinks or feels. (Formal and polite.) Please take a moment to explain yourself. I'm sure we are interested in your ideas. Yes, if you will let me explain myself, I think you'll agree with my idea.
2. to give an explanation or excuse for something wrong that one may have done. (Usually said in anger.) Young man! Come in here and explain yourself this instant. Why did you do that, Tom Smith? You had better explain yourself, and it had better be good.

explain someone or something to someone

to give information or instruction about someone or something to someone. Please explain it to me. Can you explain Andrew to me?
See also: explain

explain something away

to explain something so that it is no longer a problem. You can try to explain it away if you want, but that won't solve the problem. You can't just explain away all your problems.
See also: away, explain

explain away

Dismiss or minimize the importance of something, especially something detrimental. For example, "His words were taken down, and though he tried to explain them away, he was sent to the Tower" (Thomas Macaulay, The History of England, 1855). [c. 1700]
See also: away, explain

explain oneself

1. Clarify what one has said or done, as in If you have a few minutes, I'll try to explain myself. [First half of 1600s]
2. Demand or give an explanation or excuse for something wrong one has done. For example, You're three hours late-can you explain yourself?
See also: explain

exˈplain yourself

1 give somebody reasons for your behaviour, especially when they are angry or upset because of it: I really don’t see why I should have to explain myself to you.
2 say what you mean in a clear way: Could you explain yourself a little more — I didn’t understand.
See also: explain

explain away

To dismiss or minimize the significance of something by explanation: The candidate tried to explain his earlier misstatements away. The researcher explained away the criticisms that were raised against her hypothesis.
See also: away, explain
References in periodicals archive ?
Even if investigators manage to understand the case, they probably will have difficulty explaining it to the prosecutor.
But he nonchalantly brushes off the honor, explaining that he's working to appease his own curiosity, and that of his 4- and 2-year-old sons, whom he regularly whisks off to museums and space centers.
Greene starts out with the high points: Isaac Newton and gravity; Einstein's theory of general relativity explaining the tidy relationship between gravity and electromagnetism; Niels Bohr and quantum physics transforming the universe into chaotic kismet (to which Einstein responded, ``God does not throw dice'').
In particular, scientists are interested in explaining climate changes since the Industrial Revolution began to spew carbon dioxide and other so-called anthropogenic greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This myth also informs the work of Karl Marx and Max Weber, whose theories of alienation and bureaucratization claimed massness as a variable in explaining class consciousness.
In an attempt to assist educators and parents in explaining this and other common misunderstandings of biology, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently published a book titled Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science.
The second part of the "failures" argument has to do with economics and its role in explaining the world.
MCI doesn't have some cooked-up strategy, but we do recognize the need for explaining and defending our positions in the telecommunication market," explains Eidenberg.
Explaining war and its horrors always is a delicate subject, especially when the audience is a group of 9- and 10-year-olds.
Bullock is successful in explaining how civic and moral tenets of the Enlightenment shaped the development of an American middle-class mentality.
Schramm of the University of Chicago insists the Big Bang theory has no rival when it comes to explaining fundamental aspects of the universe.
Explaining how the change will affect customers comes under jurisdiction of consumer outreach coordinators on both ends of the state.