AskDefine | Define clarify

Dictionary Definition



1 make clear and (more) comprehensible; "clarify the mystery surrounding her death" [syn: clear up, elucidate] [ant: obfuscate]
2 make clear by removing impurities or solids, as by heating; "clarify the butter"; "clarify beer" [also: clarified]

User Contributed Dictionary



clarifier, from clarificare; clarus clear + facere to make.


  1. To make clear or bright by freeing from feculent matter; to defecate; to fine; -- said of liquids, as wine or syrup.
    "Boiled and clarified." -Ure.
  2. To make clear; to free from obscurities; to brighten or illuminate.
    "To clarify his reason, and to rectify his will." -South.
  3. : To glorify.
  4. To grow or become clear or transparent; to become free from feculent impurities, as wine or other liquid under clarification.
  5. To grow clear or bright; to clear up.


To make clear or bright by freeing from feculent matter
To make clear

Extensive Definition


The purpose of this article is to describe how to use the following tags to flag wording that is likely to be confusing to the average reader:
When using these templates, be specific: Mark individual phrases, sentences, and sections in preference to entire articles. Additionally, be sure to leave specific suggestions for improvement on the article's talk page.

How to mark articles for clarification

  • To ask for clarification for a particular phrase or sentence, simply type tl clarifyme, tl huh, tl unclear, or tl what after the phrase or sentence to insert a superscripted tag:
This is a confusing sentence.
  • To ask for clarification for a particular section, simply type tl clarify or tl confusing at the top of the section and update the article's talk page with specific aspects to be improved.
  • To ask for clarification for an entire article, consider first whether it would be more productive to tag individual phrases, sentences, or sections with tl clarifyme. If you cannot identify specific parts of the article that need clarification, write what aspects of the article you believe need clarification on the article's talk page before tagging the entire article with tl clarify.

How to improve articles marked for clarification

  • Explain jargon: Define technical terms:
    • Define extra terms early (such as: Related terms include:).
    • Add a brief definition when first using new terms, like: blog (a web log of journal entries).
    • Relatedly, beware of regional variations and the slang of certain professions.
  • Could it be shorter?: Some guidelines which often help:
    • Replace clauses with adverbs (to limit prepositions to about four per sentence).
    • Delete extraneous rambling words (especially weasel words and/or peacock terms).
    • Replace longer words with shorter words.
    • Split long sentences into shorter sentences (again, four prepositions per sentence).
    • Use idioms, or familiar phrases: rather than "electron flow field" use "electric current"; replace "computer program text" with "source code"; idioms seem simpler: as in "point of view" (the "of" here is not in the limit of four prepositions).
Compare two sentences: "Notwithstanding the controversy, she, with practiced skill, proceeded to navigate MegaX Corporation through difficult financial straits" versus "Despite the controversy, she deftly navigated MegaX Corp. through difficult financial straits" (two prepositions).
  • Add a diagram or photo: Complex text might be illustrated by a diagram. Wikimedia Commons also has over 2 million images, which can be searched (such as for "galaxy"). Even if the image or diagram is not exact, mention extra details in the caption-area, or use or Template:Location_map to overlay a custom label/symbol onto an image.
  • Add a wikitable or list: Multi-column wikitables could clarify groups of data; however, simple lists (with colon-asterisk ":*" bullets) might be enough. See: spark plug, with a list of risks/benefits.
  • Make it clear what's happening and to what: A common example is a vague pronoun reference: "Emily was friends with Francine until she changed her job" (vague: Who changed jobs? Pronoun "she" equally applies to both). Also referring back to a list but not specifying the entry.
  • Use specific wording rather than vague whenever possible: For example, instead of saying, "in the old days", specify the time period you are referring to (say, the 19th century, or the 1960s).
  • Make sure you're using the right word(s): In one of the great critiques of a fellow author, Mark Twain listed eighteen rules of writing romantic fiction violated by James Fenimore Cooper. Besides the criticism of Cooper's characterisation and plot, Twain also said that a writer should:
    • Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it. (Avoid euphemisms; we don't have to bowdlerize)
    • Use the right word, not its second cousin.
    • Eschew surplusage (see KISS principle).
    • Not omit necessary details.
    • Avoid slovenliness of form.
    • Use good grammar.
    • Employ a simple and straightforward style.
  • Make use of headings: A huge block of text can be daunting, but dividing it into sections, and subsections, can organize a logical structure onto the text, separating statements into each grouped section.
  • Check your intent: Wikipedia is a place to inform and to educate. It is not a technical journal. Information from technical journals might need to be reduced to short sentences (four prepositions), because some journals encourage writing multi-level sentences spanning fifteen lines, with sub-sub-clauses.
  • Check your spelling: Usually misspelled words are obvious in their intent (IE. "Qualty" is obviously "Quality"), however "Tedting" could be "Testing" or "Texting".

Known Faults

Do not use the tl clarifyme tag within an italicized paragraph, because that paragraph would run horizontally off the right of the page without wrapping onto subsequent lines in some browsers. See the example on the discussion page.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

account for, allegorize, analyze, bolt, break down, clean, cleanse, clear, clear up, crack, decipher, decrassify, define, delineate, demonstrate, demythologize, depurate, disembroil, disentangle, disintricate, disinvolve, distill, edulcorate, elucidate, elute, enlighten, essentialize, euhemerize, exemplify, explain, explain away, explicate, exposit, expound, extract, filter, filtrate, formulate, get across, get over, give reason for, give the meaning, illuminate, illustrate, leach, lixiviate, make clear, make it clear, make plain, percolate, popularize, purify, put across, put over, rationalize, ravel, rectify, refine, screen, separate, shed light upon, show, show how, show the way, sieve, sift, simplify, solve, sort out, spell out, spiritualize, straighten out, strain, sublimate, sublime, throw light upon, try, unbraid, unclutter, uncoil, unfold, unknot, unlock, unmix, unravel, unscramble, unsnarl, untangle, unthread, untwine, untwist, unweave, unwind, vulgarize, winnow
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