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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 (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, to

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*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, to

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Along with explaining how networks function and contribute to innovative problem solving, Watts offers some specific advice.
I have since addressed both of these problems during class, explaining that the InterChange space has certain conventions that set it apart from the typical chatroom, and also that the real time audience needs to be addressed as in a face to face discussion.
Even if investigators manage to understand the case, they probably will have difficulty explaining it to the prosecutor.
In K-M Kim (Ed.), Explaining scientific consensus: The case of mendelian genetics (pp.
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.
Extending this idea to explain war, Michael Ghiglieri, in a November 1987 Discover article, described a study of chimps and speculated whether "war runs in our genes like baldness or diabetes." Such explanations extend the popular theories of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a spate of books appeared explaining human behavior to a lay audience in evolutionary terms.
Bucks next described the constitution and operating organization of the MTC, explaining that there were 20 full members of the Multistate Tax Compact (including the District of Columbia), 15 associate members, and 5 project members.
Powers, J.D., explains the vital roles the treating physician, neuropsychologist, vocational rehabilitation expert, life care planner, economist, and plaintiff serve in fully explaining the significance and long-term effects of the TBI.
Explaining new developments in molten metal filtration was Hugh Kind, Foseco.
For detailed information and diagrams explaining weather of all kinds, you might want to consult USA Today: The Weather Book by Jack Williams (Vintage Books, 1992).
Explaining the success of their buildings is easy for Wright and Morrows.
The largest part of the book, however, is devoted to explaining the early life of the universe.
The authors try to soothe the anxious executive by explaining that those measuring tools are now available and, if used correctly, could give the companies that adopt them a substantial advantage over their competition.
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.