Word Choice: Explicit vs. Implicit

Writing Tips Blog

It’s always vital to make the correct word choice in an academic paper. In today’s blog post, then, we’re going to explain the difference¬†between two regularly-confused words: “explicit” and “implicit.”

Both of these terms describe the way in an idea is expressed, yet they are also opposites of one another. As such, it is very important to use them correctly! Read on below to find out how to avoid errors with these terms.

Explicit (Fully and Clearly Expressed)

Explicit means “clear and unambiguous.” For example, if someone has clearly and fully explained their position, you could say that:

Jones’ views in this paper are explicit.

This means that Jones’ views are clearly stated. Don’t get confused with the other use of “explicit,” which indicates material of an adult nature!

Implicit (Implied or Expressed Indirectly)

Implicit means “indirectly expressed.” For example, if you read another paper by Jones and decided that some of her views were only implied rather than clearly stated, you could say:

Jones’ current ideas were implicit in her earlier work, but not yet fully developed.

Sometimes, implicit can also mean “unquestioned” or “unreserved”:

My implicit trust in the news media means I am often misled by Rupert Murdoch.

In both of these cases, the idea is that something remains unstated.

Implicit or Explicit?

The correct term to use in any given situation will depend on the context. If you are describing something that is clear and unambiguous, the word to use will be “explicit.”

On the other hand, if you’re describing something that is merely implied, rather than clearly and fully expressed, the correct term will be “implicit.”


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