Definition of interpret in English:

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Pronunciation: /inˈtərprət/

verb (interprets, interpreting, interpreted)

[with object]
1Explain the meaning of (information, words, or actions): the evidence is difficult to interpret
More example sentences
  • A statistician assisted in interpreting the information.
  • Most of the staff quoted in the book wanted to understand numerical measures of risk, and they reported feelings of inadequacy at the difficulties they had in interpreting information for patients.
  • While the situations for each are different, they all illustrate a discrepancy between the sensory input and how the brain interprets the information.
explain, elucidate, expound, explicate, clarify, illuminate, shed light on
decipher, decode, unscramble, make intelligible;
understand, comprehend, make sense of, figure out
informal crack
1.1 [no object] Translate orally or into sign language the words of a person speaking a different language: I agreed to interpret for Jean-Claude
More example sentences
  • Pupils are also failing to realise that languages not only lead to jobs in interpreting, translating and teaching, but are becoming increasingly important to doctors, dentists and engineers.
  • It was written in a language he couldn't interpret, but he recognized the word ‘Lavender’.
  • The meaning of the phrase may not be immediately evident to the average reader; but the scholar who on those grounds removes it does not translate but interprets.
1.2Perform (a dramatic role or piece of music) in a particular way that conveys one’s understanding of the creator’s ideas.
Example sentences
  • As an artist, she had to perform and interpret the role - even to the extent of singing the odd song in German or French.
  • He was seldom content to interpret music safely, and he hardly ever played a piece, a phrase, or even a note the same way twice.
  • The strength of Timocheko's work lay in her virtuosity of performance and great ability to interpret music.
perform, act, play, render, depict, portray
2Understand (an action, mood, or way of behaving) as having a particular meaning or significance: her self-confidence was often interpreted as brashness
More example sentences
  • I have stressed, in the end, on prosperity but that should in no way be interpreted as a materialistic tendency.
  • The atmosphere was very tense and what we saw as youthful excitement was interpreted as unacceptable disrespect.
  • I favour using beads or bits of cake, but this will no doubt be interpreted as a suggestion that maths should be dumbed down.
understand, construe, take (to mean), see, regard


Interpretative, which means ‘serving to interpret or explain,’ dates back to around 1560, but the shorter form interpretive, about a hundred years younger, is steadily pressing it out of employment. They mean the same thing, and both are correct. The traditional interpretative is still the preferred form in Britain, but in American usage, interpretive is far more common.



Pronunciation: /-ˌtərpritəˈbilitē/
Example sentences
  • Given the good fit of the CFA and the interpretability of the correlations among the constructs, the second-order structural model was used to test hypotheses.
  • While there are often alternative analytical approaches that result in equivalent analyses with respect to interpretation of results, it is also the case that inappropriate analysis may limit interpretability.
  • Concluded that this was the best fitting and most parsimonious model for their data, a conclusion that implies the interpretability of an overall involvement score as well as scores within particular domains of involvement.


Pronunciation: /inˈtərprədəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • The first 13 factors appeared interpretable and explained 54% of the common variance.
  • Factor analysis showed the ten multiple intelligences fell into three interpretable factors which were predicted by both gender and test experience.
  • Of course there is no such thing as a universally interpretable pictogram.


Pronunciation: /-ˈtərpritivlē/
Example sentences
  • Grids and rules define similar lines in our society, and many of my layouts, viewed interpretively, reveal policing, economic division or, in at least one instance, allocation of governmental spending.
  • Ray has a more basic, and usual, problem: the telling bits of Charles's character never come together interpretively.
  • His playing is superb: pure in intonation, fleet, nuanced, rhythmically adroit, interpretively alert - qualities that well describe his partner's playing as well.


Late Middle English: from Old French interpreter or Latin interpretari 'explain, translate', from interpres, interpret- 'agent, translator, interpreter'.

Words that rhyme with interpret


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: in·ter·pret

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