Definition of translate in English:



  • 1Express the sense of (words or text) in another language.

    ‘the German original has been translated into English’
    • ‘Sign language is visual, and isn't always translated word for word into English.’
    • ‘In my speech I translated the words as they were, very literally.’
    • ‘I learned a great deal about the Polish language from translating this book, and that continues to serve me well.’
    • ‘Where possible without contortion, I have used gender-free language in translating these terms.’
    • ‘The best thing about that text is that it translates the word ‘pop’ as ‘explosion sound.’’
    • ‘From what I can tell, somebody went through and very literally translated words from German to English for the North American release.’
    • ‘In this sense, representation is the contemporary term that translates the Greek word mimesis, used by Plato and Aristotle to describe the making of likenesses.’
    • ‘Its big guffaw moments include an old lady macing a couple of cops and a sign language interpreter translating four-letter words.’
    • ‘I put my ear to the door, expecting some foreign language from another planet, but to my surprise, my brain translated the words to me even though I had never heard them.’
    • ‘Then I carefully opened the first envelope and extracted a piece of crinkled loose-leaf notebook paper, and had to smile at it as I began translating the misspelled words and tiny scribbles.’
    • ‘The only tricky part to the whole thing was how to translate the words while trying to keep the same logical structure and writing style.’
    • ‘The famous statement attributed to Jesus about the foolishness of giving up one's ‘soul’ for the world translates the Greek word psyche.’
    • ‘The Russian interpreter appeared to be having difficulty translating his master's words.’
    • ‘I always find myself translating the words in my head.’
    • ‘These juridical responsa are translated here for the first time into a European language, with introduction and annotation.’
    • ‘I could not help translating his words for my mother.’
    • ‘He muttered something in a language I recognized as Italian, but I could not translate the words.’
    • ‘It's a bit of a mug's game trying to translate the already translated words of a person back into the language originally used.’
    • ‘On following the English text, I realised that the translator had translated word for word because she did not fully understand.’
    interpret, render, gloss, put, express, convert, change, construe, transcribe, transliterate
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    1. 1.1[no object]Be expressed or be capable of being expressed in another language.
      ‘shiatsu literally translates as “finger pressure.”’
      • ‘A classic example of a thirst-quenching summer beer is the German beer known as hefeweizen, which literally translates to ‘yeast wheat beer.’’
      • ‘It translates literally to ‘over here the good soup’, which I think is even funnier.’
      • ‘I wonder if the ‘no harm in asking’ expression translates?’
      • ‘Emotionally rather than literally, it translates as ‘Holy cow!’’
      • ‘For example, ‘Ibalan’ literally translates as ‘Try Hard’.’
      • ‘The process of cooking ‘sous-vide’ literally translates from French to mean ‘under vacuum.’’
      • ‘Literally translated from Scottish dialect, the words auld lang syne mean old long since, or, in more familiar terms, days gone by.’
      • ‘Arohanui is a Maori greeting which literally translates as ‘big love’ or more broadly peace and love among all people.’
      • ‘It translates literally as Easterner, referring to their origins in Eastern Tibet.’
      • ‘From the Latin word ‘paganus,’ pagan literally translates to country dweller.’
      • ‘Worse still, the group's name translates literally as ‘the ball appreciation society’.’
      • ‘From this he developed Ikenobo, the Japan's oldest school of Ikebana, literally translated as ‘The Way of the Flower’.’
      • ‘While we agreed on the rest of the conversation, somehow sting ray did not translate literally between English and Spanish.’
      • ‘In addition, many idioms and expressions mean something very different when translated literally into another language.’
      • ‘She adds that this approach is what she believes translates across cultures and language.’
      • ‘In fact, in Chinese they are jiashanshi, which literally translates as ‘fake mountain rocks.’’
      • ‘William wrote, in Latin, Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate, which translates literally into English as ‘Plurality should not be posited without necessity’.’
      • ‘‘Saltimbocca’ literally translates as ‘leap in the mouth’, which is what these morsels do.’
      • ‘Fond d' Or literally translates as ‘Valley of Gold’ but don't get any ideas about digging for gold, there is no known history of such metals to be found.’
      • ‘But chocolate is manufactured from the cocoa plant Theobroma cacao, which literally translates as ‘food of the gods’.’
    2. 1.2Convert or be converted into (another form or medium)
      [with object] ‘few of Shakespeare's other works have been translated into ballets’
      • ‘This sequence will have a real bearing on the tone of the rest of the season, and the importance of translating excuses into results cannot be overestimated.’
      • ‘British designers often have trouble translating their originality into sales.’
      • ‘As the report states, ‘the difficulty we face is in translating our intentions into concrete action.’’
      • ‘However, translating promises into actionable agenda will require a vision, a road map and lot of innovations.’
      • ‘With music, the song undergoes a recontextualization, remaining in the same medium, with the artists translating the material into a particular style.’
      • ‘Some powerful music corporations have tried to outlaw MP3, to block hardware that uses it, shut down websites that utilise it, and to legislate against translating other formats into it.’
      • ‘But we haven't always been good at keeping our scientists here and translating their work into jobs and prosperity for Britain.’
      • ‘But translating ideals into tangible policies and alternatives have not been easy.’
      • ‘Not only is he one of the best preachers in the world, he has the ability to translate his message into other mediums, including books, music, and drama.’
      • ‘I enjoy the process of translating thoughts into visuals.’
      • ‘You're highly proficient at translating words into numbers.’
      • ‘What dance intends to communicate seems impossible to translate into a casual conversation.’
      • ‘We have the following conversation which I shall translate into the dialect for verisimilitude.’
      • ‘It is to this important phase of translating concepts into measures that we now turn.’
      • ‘You try to think how much fabric you will need, translating shapes into metres, or in my case, yards which I then convert to metric.’
      • ‘I wondered if it would be possible to translate those elements into a time-based medium such as video.’
      • ‘But translating percentages into numbers for the purpose of evaluating their impact on politics makes the importance of these numbers real.’
      • ‘After months of nitpicking of this kind some movement towards translating words into deeds has at last taken place.’
      • ‘It is about translating their dreams into abilities.’
      • ‘The second part happens in the artist's hands, as the idea is translated into a specific medium that other people can appreciate.’
      render, paraphrase, reword, rephrase, recast, convert, decipher, decode, gloss, explain, unravel, reveal, elucidate, expound, clarify, spell out
      change, convert, transform, alter, turn, metamorphose, transmute, transfigure, render
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  • 2Move from one place or condition to another.

    ‘she had been translated from familiar surroundings to a foreign court’
    relocate, transfer, move, remove, shift, convey, transport, transplant
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    1. 2.1formal Move (a bishop) to another see or pastoral charge.
      • ‘He was made bishop of Dunkeld in 1544 and three years later, after the murder of Cardinal Beaton, was translated to the archbishopric of St Andrews and primacy.’
    2. 2.2formal Remove (a saint's relics) to another place.
      • ‘Edward was buried without due honour at Wareham, though his body was later translated to Shaftesbury.’
      • ‘The relics and ex voto gifts accumulated since the ninth century when the relics were translated from the administrative town of Agen are now stored in a nearby building.’
      • ‘Relics were increasingly translated, or transported into, churches from sites of martyrdom, and as the basis for Christian burial ad sanctos.’
      • ‘His relics were translated c. 849, to Dunkeld in Pictland, and to Kells.’
    3. 2.3literary Convey (someone, typically still alive) to heaven.
      • ‘Elijah was said to have been translated to Heaven on a fiery chariot, a scene often depicted on Early Christian sarcophagi, whereas the Bible says simply that Enoch was taken by God.’
      • ‘If the Form Critics are right, the disciples must have been translated to heaven immediately after the Resurrection.’
    4. 2.4Biology Convert (a sequence of nucleotides in messenger RNA) to an amino-acid sequence in a protein or polypeptide during synthesis.
      • ‘The genetic code is the mapping by which nucleotide sequences are translated into amino acid sequences.’
      • ‘DNA sequences were translated into amino acid sequences (the Drosophila code was used for Gammarus, and the mammalian code was used for Rana and Apodemus).’
      • ‘All nucleotide alignments were translated into amino acid alignments.’
      • ‘The DNA is transcribed into an intermediary called RNA, which ferries the genetic message out to the ribosomes, where it is translated into a protein chain.’
      • ‘Special proteins remove the noncoding regions from the mRNA before it is translated into protein at the ribosome.’
      • ‘First the DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA by the enzyme RNA polymerase; then the messenger RNA is translated into protein by ribosomes.’
  • 3Physics
    Cause (a body) to move so that all its parts travel in the same direction, without rotation or change of shape.

    • ‘That lets one translate the radialvelocity periods and amplitudes into actual planetary masses - not just lower mass limits.’
    • ‘Everything from the motion of the planets to visual perception was described in terms of particles bouncing off of one another, translating their kinetic motion from one body to another.’
    • ‘Rotation of the lever in a second direction translates rotational movement into sliding motion of the upper disk in a second direction to control the water flow rate.’
    • ‘A gyroscope inside translates movement through the air into mouse movements, which moves the pointer on the screen.’
    • ‘As a result, both angular and vertical accelerations experienced by the body were translated directly to the head.’
    1. 3.1Mathematics Transform (a geometric figure) in an analogous way.
      • ‘To calculate shape coordinates, the 23 triangles were translated, rotated, and rescaled relative to the baseline.’
      • ‘The line may be also translated by dragging it anywhere away from the points.’


Middle English: from Latin translatus carried across past participle of transferre (see transfer).