I need a word meaning that "explaining why something is as it is". An example sentence is "The dependencies can be ... in different ways." I feel that a good choice for me may be to use the word "interpreted". However, it is mentioned here that interpret means "to describe the meaning of something; examine in order to explain", while I need it to mean "to describe why something is as it is". Can interpret mean what I mean?

In other words, according to dictionaries, interpret seems to be about what something means, while I want to use it about why something is as it is. Can it be used like that? For example, in a sentence like "We provide two different interpretations for the existence of these dependencies", in which we mean "We provide to different explanations for the existence of these dependencies"

  • "Interpretations" depends on opinion. If you are providing something based on facts do not use it. "Demonstrations" suits better. – RubioRic May 20 '18 at 18:39

The dependencies can be explained in different ways.
We provide two different reasons for the existence of these dependencies.

  • I came to the conclusion that explain is indeed a good choice. But doesn't interpret work here? – Shayan May 21 '18 at 15:42
  • 1
    @Shayan Interpretation is mostly intransitive—it's something that you do, whether or not you're on your own. However, explanation is mostly transitive—you explain to other people. Teachers interpret material and then they explain it to students. I just prefer the more interactive verb here. Neither is wrong for your purpose. – Jason Bassford May 21 '18 at 15:55
  • X means
  • x may be interpreted as
  • X may be understood as

The verb mean is used for hard-and-fast definitions or idioms, the kind you find in dictionaries.

Yes, the verb interpret something as something can be used to describe something as found in some particular context. Interpreted means there is no hard-and-fast rule for the thing or state or condition. The verb understand can also be used like that.

  • Your answer and its relation to what I mean (to describe why something is as it is), is ambiguous to me. – Shayan May 20 '18 at 18:25
  • 1
    Well, I suggest you use a good bilingual dictionary and see for yourself in your own language. I cannot help you further. Of course, if something is as it is, the verb be comes to mind. Life is hard. – Lambie May 20 '18 at 18:36

It's difficult to understand the difference between "interpret" and what you need.

According to Cambridge Dictionary


to decide what the intended meaning of something is

In my opinion, interpret got a sense of subjectivity, it may depend on opinions more than facts. Someone has to decide, and he may be wrong.

If we are talking about mathematical or scientifical dependencies, it should be validated or demonstrated or verified.

You can have multiple forms of validating something but none of them depends on opinions.

If following that sentence, you are going to explain different approaches to describe those dependencies, just use described or explained and list those different forms of dependencies.

  • According to dictionaries, interpret seems to be about what something means, while I want to use it about why something is as it is. Can it be used like that? – Shayan May 20 '18 at 18:28
  • @Shayan You can use all the listed verbs to describe the meaning (what, using your terms) or the reason (why) of something. Edit your post with a full sentence and you may find more helpful answers. – RubioRic May 20 '18 at 18:33
  • 2
    I think "interpreted" is fine. But if you want to emphasise the reason then "explained" may be a better choice. – James Random May 20 '18 at 20:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.