What is the Difference Between Implicit and Explicit

The main difference between implicit and explicit is that implicit refers to something that is implied but not said directly, whereas explicit refers to something is that stated directly.

Implicit and explicit are two adjectives that most people tend to use interchangeably. However, these are antonyms, i.e., they have opposing means. When something is implicit, it is only suggested, but not directly expressed. However, when something is explicit, it is directly and clearly expressed. Thus, we cannot use these two words, interchangeably.

Key Areas Covered

1. What Does Implicit Mean
     – Definition, Meaning, Examples
2. What Does Explicit Mean
     – Definition, Meaning, Examples
3. What is the Relationship Between Implicit and Explicit
     – Outline of Association
4. What is the Difference Between Implicit and Explicit
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Explicit, Explicitly, Implicit, ImplicitlyDifference Between Implicit and Explicit - Comparison Summary

Implicit – Definition, Meaning, Examples

Implicit means that something is implied or suggested, but not directly expressed. In other words, it refers to something unstated, implied, or expressed indirectly. For example, an implicit statement is a statement where something is expressed indirectly, instead of expressing it directly.

Difference Between Implicit and Explicit

Figure 1: Implicit in her letter was her unhappiness in her marriage and new life.

Let’s look at some example sentences to understand how we use this adjective.

  • They understood his remark as an implicit criticism on politics.
  • He gave an implicit warning through his actions.
  • You have to read the letter carefully to understand the implicit message.
  • Implicit in the story’s last chapters are the writer’s own criticism on the patriarchal society.
  • Although they have not come to a final decision, they have an implicit agreement. 
  • We interpreted the writer’s comments as an implicit criticism of the government. 

Furthermore, the adverb form of the adjective implicit is implicitly. If we look at the example, ‘Jake implicitly stated that he was against the policies’, this indicates that Jake indirectly states his stand.

Explicit – Definition, Meaning, Examples

Explicit is the opposite of implicit. In other words, explicit means to express something plainly and directly. When something is explicit, it is expressed clearly and exactly, so there is no room for confusion. For example, explicit instructions are instructions that are direct and clear. The adverb form of this adjective is explicitly.

Main Difference - Implicit vs Explicit

Figure 2: The manager explained his plans explicitly.

Let’s now look at some examples sentences to understand this adjective more clearly.

  • She gave explicit instructions to the staff.
  • He gave me explicit instructions on how to get there.
  • The little girl was very explicit about her wishes.
  • You should have been more explicit; they didn’t understand your instructions clearly.
  • Her letter is very explicit about what she’s going to do.
  • He told you explicitly to be there on time.

Relationship Between Implicit and Explicit

  • These two adjectives are antonyms since they have opposite meanings.
  • In addition to this, they come from the same Latin root, which has the meaning ‘fold’.

Difference Between Implicit and Explicit

Definition

Implicit refers to something indirect, suggested, or implied, whereas explicit refers to something clear and direct.

Confusion

When someone expresses something implicitly, there is room for confusion, but when someone expresses something explicitly, there tends to be no confusion.

Adverb

Moreover, the adverb form of implicit is implicitly, whereas the adverb form of explicit is explicitly.

Conclusion

Implicit and explicit are antonyms. Therefore, we cannot use them interchangeably in sentences. When someone expresses something implicitly, there is room for confusion, but when someone expresses something explicitly, there tends to be no confusion. Thus, this is the main difference between implicit and explicit.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Writing a letter” By Petar Milošević – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Businesspeople planning on a glass wall” (CC0) via Pxhere

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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