What does the below sentence mean exactly? That sentence is from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. I tried to find out the exact meaning of it by looking up several words in it, but I am confused about what exact meaning it has.

What exactly does 'explicit references' mean in the sentence?

She made some very explicit references to my personal life.

  • 1
    An explicit reference is the opposite of a vague or general reference. "I know you like to party at The Night Owl on Thursdays" versus "I heard you enjoy clubbing". or "You divorced your wife last Janurary, right?" versus "You're not married, right?" or "You sleep around, right?" versus "Are you seeing anyone?" The word explicit can also have sexual connotations, at least in the US.
    – TimR
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


"explicit" in adjective form can mean "stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt" or "describing or representing sexual activity in a graphic fashion".

The latter definition can be expanded to mean things inappropriate for a general audience, such as "I don't want my kids listening to explicit rap albums" (In fact, when a CD case is labeled "Explicit", it means it contains sexual references and foul language)

"my personal life" is generally things you want kept secret from others unless you chose to share it with someone, typically those are close friends, mates, etc.

Without any other context, this sentence seems to be implying that "She" is an antagonist, maybe an ex-girlfriend or spouse, is revealing some rather personal details in an inappropriate forum.

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    "Explicit" in this context most likely has a double meaning. While it can be read to mean "she had clear details about my personal life", the choice of word, connected with "personal life", implies the details are sexual in nature.
    – user11628
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 22:07
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    Thank you for the kind answer, treehau5, though, it is a bit too late to show my gratitude to you. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 18:18
  • @Mike Kozar, Thank you for the comment. To ask about it, do you mean it is not necessarily implying sexual stuff but generally regarding the sense of our real life, it can be assumed it is most likely to be related to sexual behavior? Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 18:24
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    @SmartHumanism, If you take the phrase perfectly literally, it may or may not be sexual in nature. However, a native English speaker would consider the suggestion that it may be sexual in nature very significant. A native speaker would not suggest that by mistake. It seems most likely that the speaker wants to imply the details are sexual without confirming the details are sexual. This gives the speaker "deniability", meaning that if confronted later he can (insincerely) claim he was misunderstood.
    – user11628
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 19:37
  • @MikeKozar Thank you so much for the kind explanation. Now I totally understand it. Wish you a lovely day. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 23:14

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