Definition of expound in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Present and explain (a theory or idea) systematically and in detail.

    ‘he was expounding a powerful argument’
    no object ‘he declined to expound on his decision’
    • ‘In 1877, he expounded his theories on British prehistoric peoples in the book British Barrows written jointly with the famous barrow-opener William Greenwell.’
    • ‘Nichols and Duffy expound at length about these influences from the Enlightenment.’
    • ‘Nardini wholeheartedly expounds the idea that those in the public eye are obliged to raise the profile of organisations who struggle to avert major crises.’
    • ‘Apparently, he expounds virtues and morals yet he has little to none.’
    • ‘Jean Jacques Rousseau expounded the idea that government rested on a social contract.’
    • ‘They also need to expound at length, to present their evidence and make their best argument.’
    • ‘Harry loved to talk and could expound eloquently on just about any topic.’
    • ‘They wanted me to expound on this topic because I had some decent ideas on the subject.’
    • ‘Perhaps he will expound at greater length on the relationships among art, artists, and politics.’
    • ‘As well as his tours he published various essays expounding his ideas and methods.’
    • ‘If Bruce expounds such views with a defiant gleam of vindication, it's understandable.’
    • ‘Liberalism's virtues are expounded with elegance, and at times a rather terse satirical cut.’
    • ‘The Realist movement expounded the idea that art should rebel against the traditional historical, mythological and religious subjects in favour of unidealised scenes of modern life.’
    • ‘Writing a monthly column usually means expounding on a single topic.’
    • ‘The task of studying, clarifying, and expounding doctrines is typically the responsibility of a literate, educated élite.’
    • ‘The Thomas Merton Center expounds a Buddhist pacifist philosophy, along with advocating nonviolent protests and civil disobedience.’
    • ‘Over the next 30 years he contributed 78 papers to international journals, many of them expounding his own theory of molecular attraction.’
    • ‘I liked his recent article in the newspaper, expounding the theory of ‘Narrative Politics’.’
    • ‘He used it as an opportunity to expound the idea of flexible integration.’
    • ‘First, it is suggested that successive attempts to expound a Marxian theory of nature have see-sawed between naturalistic and social constructionist positions.’
    present, put forward, set forth, proffer, offer, advance, propose, propound, frame, give an account of, recount
    elaborate on, expand on, expatiate on, dwell on, harp on, discuss at length
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    1. 1.1 Explain the meaning of (a literary or doctrinal work)
      ‘the abbess expounded the scriptures to her nuns’
      • ‘The whole of it was profoundly congenial, and the opening of the chapter on Nicene Orthodoxy, which expounds creatio ex nihilo and its implications for the doctrine of contemplation, was a revelation.’
      • ‘The task of studying, clarifying, and expounding doctrines is typically the responsibility of a literate, educated élite.’
      • ‘In most cases the parables of later Jewish teachers were used to illustrate or expound Scripture.’
      • ‘He argues that the exegetical work of the church has always had an interest in relevance, in practical application, as it expounds texts and doctrines.’
      • ‘The word ‘master’ meant a theologian who could expound the Scriptures.’
      • ‘But Harding finds that, in expounding that literal text and the lives of its prominent interpreters, they are constantly creating new truth.’
      • ‘At the papal curia he was asked to expound the doctrine of the Latin church at a meeting with representatives of the Greek church.’
      • ‘If, then, we are to expound Scripture rightly, we must study it.’
      • ‘The commentator must know the whole of Aristotle in order that, having first proved that Aristotle is consistent with himself, he may expound Aristotle's works by means of Aristotle's works.’
      • ‘We note when historical figures expound the meaning of Scripture in ways that are consistent with the biblical text, and times when they do not.’
      • ‘It is amazing for a person who later expounded the doctrine of maximum efficiency to have accomplished such a feat.’
      • ‘Authors customarily used the commentary format not only to expound the works of Aristotle, but also as a vehicle for original philosophical theorizing.’
      • ‘Constantly new commentaries are coming out to try and expound the meaning of scripture.’
      • ‘These two Greek-speakers proceeded to expound the Scriptures and the Greek Fathers to the Anglo-Saxons in a distinctively eastern mode, giving pride of place to rhetoric.’
      explain, interpret, explicate, elucidate
      View synonyms


Middle English expoune (in the sense ‘explain (what is difficult)’): from Old French espon-, present tense stem of espondre, from Latin exponere ‘expose, publish, explain’, from ex- ‘out’ + ponere ‘put’. The origin of the final -d (recorded from the Middle English period) is uncertain.