Explicit or Implicit?

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between explicit and implicit?

Explicit means direct or clearly expressed.

Implicit means implied or expressed indirectly.

Explicit and Implicit

Occasionally, there is confusion over the words explicit and implicit. They sound similar, but their meanings are very different.


The adjective explicit means precisely and clearly expressed.

  • The law was explicit in whose tax rates were to be raised.
  • Marathon runners set explicit goals.


The adjective implicit means implied or suggested.

  • There is always an implicit threat of violence.
  • The attention on young middle class protestors was far less direct but often implicit.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are adjectives? What are nouns? List of easily confused words