Definition of interpret in US English:

interpret

verb

  • 1with object Explain the meaning of (information, words, or actions)

    ‘the evidence is difficult to interpret’
    • ‘Because she feels that historical facts were creatively interpreted in the run up to the conflict, she invented her own lexis to convey her stance.’
    • ‘This interactive web-based landscape will enable archaeologists to examine every aspect of the area's past by uncovering and interpreting clues left on the landscape.’
    • ‘For now, clinicians need to use caution in interpreting available information and in counseling their patients.’
    • ‘Under these conditions, one investor can gain an advantage over another only through acquiring skill in analyzing and interpreting available information.’
    • ‘He interprets evidence narrowly and literally to sharply revise down the number of Aboriginal deaths.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A statistician assisted in interpreting the information.’
    • ‘The United States seems to interpret the news these days through a prism of catch phrases borrowed from history.’
    • ‘These figures do not include other associated personnel costs incurred in the drawing of serum levels and interpreting this information.’
    • ‘When the evidence is interpreted from a DNA sample, does it tend to confirm what the courts have already ruled?’
    • ‘The quoted date does not seem compatible with the time-scale of biblical history, even allowing for some leeway in interpreting the genealogical information.’
    • ‘How should historical and anthropological evidence be interpreted?’
    • ‘So directors are increasingly aware of a need to protect themselves when they start interpreting historical fact during the creative process.’
    • ‘Put out the information, then let the people decide for themselves how they're going to interpret the facts.’
    • ‘And the high profile court battles have shown how difficult it is to get medical experts to agree on how to interpret the facts of a case.’
    • ‘Be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting accurate information.’
    • ‘Because of their bias, evolutionists interpret any facts as evidence for evolution.’
    • ‘Then all the evidence is interpreted in order to fit the theory.’
    • ‘How else can one interpret the fact that they repeatedly have to distort the reality of what he says in order to answer it?’
    explain, elucidate, expound, explicate, clarify, make clear, make plain, illuminate, shed light on, throw light on
    decipher, decode, solve, resolve, untangle, unravel, make intelligible
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    1. 1.1 Understand (an action, mood, or way of behaving) as having a particular meaning or significance.
      ‘her self-confidence was often interpreted as brashness’
      • ‘Amid the vagaries of that mechanism, the people's interests are narrowly interpreted as financial benefits.’
      • ‘In late 1984 his sudden death was interpreted as suicide.’
      • ‘If interpreted this way, however, the care ethic runs the danger of excluding the most needy, since they are most likely to be outside the web of relationships.’
      • ‘Americans seem aware that overt demonstrations of their love for their country can be interpreted as aggression.’
      • ‘Flagging passion is often interpreted as the death knell of a relationship.’
      • ‘Anxiety is interpreted as a sign of the nihilism of this technological present.’
      • ‘The atmosphere was very tense and what we saw as youthful excitement was interpreted as unacceptable disrespect.’
      • ‘It's easy to interpret his angelic temper and indifference to human intrusion as friendliness.’
      • ‘It's not the way the public see it at the moment, and I think the government have interpreted the public mood correctly.’
      • ‘She hoped it would be interpreted as joy, or something, anything else.’
      • ‘Self-reliance is always liable to be interpreted as vanity.’
      • ‘I favour using beads or bits of cake, but this will no doubt be interpreted as a suggestion that maths should be dumbed down.’
      • ‘Creating and interpreting feelings is a messy business.’
      • ‘It is merely to say that interpreting the mood among 450 million people is as complicated as it is necessary.’
      • ‘I have stressed, in the end, on prosperity but that should in no way be interpreted as a materialistic tendency.’
      • ‘The change in musical mediums shouldn't be interpreted as the last breath of the recorded love letter.’
      • ‘A clueless cad tries to woo a lady with his self-produced song and macho posturing, interpreting her disdain as approval.’
      • ‘And the speed of the decision must be interpreted as an enthusiastic endorsement of his views.’
      • ‘In a certain way, the desire to persuade can also be interpreted as a means of commanding others.’
      • ‘Although he cannot speak, he is nonetheless able to interpret the moods of others by taking in facial expressions used by the person dealing with him.’
      understand, construe, take to mean, take, read, see, regard, explain
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    2. 1.2 Perform (a dramatic role or piece of music) in a particular way that conveys one's understanding of the creator's ideas.
      • ‘The strength of Timocheko's work lay in her virtuosity of performance and great ability to interpret music.’
      • ‘If you want to entertain, you have to interpret the music for today's audiences and have your own take on it.’
      • ‘Over the years there have been many of adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and countless actors interpreting the role.’
      • ‘Her approach enables beginners to play intricate melodies almost from the first lesson, simultaneously planting the seeds for easily interpreting sheet music.’
      • ‘Just as opera stars interpret their roles differently, so do chief executives.’
      • ‘He does not interpret the role as a menacing villain, but as a confident, tireless, self-satisfied trickster.’
      • ‘Although there is no narrative, the work clearly interprets the music with some sections being quite sombre while others are quite amusing.’
      • ‘The centenary of Schubert's birth prompted critics to voice their opinions on how to interpret his music.’
      • ‘‘You take a cue from those physical motions and interpret the music accordingly,’ he says.’
      • ‘They interpret the role they are playing differently depending upon their experiences and education.’
      • ‘Answers on offer are a bit vague as the show is constantly evolving and the visual arrangement depends on how the VJ interprets the music.’
      • ‘His videos do an incredible job of interpreting the music.’
      • ‘It is a challenge to interpret music for solo voice.’
      • ‘Many theories propose that listening to and interpreting music with complex patterns activates the neuronal pathways in the hippocampus, which can lead to an increased efficacy of the neurons.’
      • ‘Rehearsals will take place every Saturday and chosen dancers will have a say in how the music is interpreted.’
      • ‘As an artist, she had to perform and interpret the role - even to the extent of singing the odd song in German or French.’
      • ‘From that moment, he wanted to interpret music in a similar way, to present people with a different way of manipulating music.’
      • ‘In theatre women started to interpret the traditional roles of masculine characters - from Faust to Hamlet.’
      • ‘By having the role of Orpheus interpreted by two actors, a man and a woman, Marcel Hanoun reconstructs the mythic couple as a trio.’
      • ‘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.’
      portray, depict, present, perform, execute, enact, render
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  • 2no object Translate orally or into sign language the words of a person speaking a different language.

    ‘I agreed to interpret for Jean-Claude’
    • ‘Some of the fluent HL speakers were able to translate and interpret for others who were not fluent in English.’
    • ‘In other words, I switch off my brain and stop interpreting.’
    • ‘When it contradicts the traditional pronunciation, we always interpret according to the written word.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So what interprets and what is interpreted are both in a different position from that which a naive epistemology would attribute to them.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘What is the language from which you are going to interpret?’
    • ‘It was written in a language he couldn't interpret, but he recognized the word ‘Lavender’.’
    • ‘They didn't necessarily know whom they were interpreting for, especially if they were interpreting in ‘capitalist’ languages like English or French.’
    • ‘For some, their ability helped them in translating and interpreting for others who were not fluent in English.’
    • ‘When the Deputy Speaker came back to the Chamber she quite rightly said that the role of the interpreter is to interpret, not to translate.’
    • ‘They are required to have a command of English and the language used at interview, and to be able to interpret accurately and fluently between both languages.’
    • ‘Marie, like her brother, also uses her skills with the two languages to interpret at times.’
    • ‘He paused often to consider what he was being told, teased the young woman who was interpreting in sign language for the deaf children, and smiled extravagantly throughout.’
    • ‘In either case, the principle directs the interpreter to translate or interpret so as to read some of his own standards of truth into the pattern of sentences held true by the speaker.’
    • ‘How many hours of interviews will we conduct, transcribe, and interpret?’
    • ‘Matter becomes the matter of words, which creates structure, makes legible, interprets, against a ground of unreadable silence.’
    translate, transcribe, transliterate, rewrite, convert
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Usage

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

interpret

/inˈtərprət//ɪnˈtərprət/