Clarify vs elucidate vs unravel vs diagnose

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Ibiscus

Senior Member
Northern Italian
Hello guys..!

This time I have a quite hard question for you..

I'd like to know the difference regarding the meaning and the use of the verbs: TO ELUCIDATE, TO CLARIFY, TO UNRAVEL, TO DIAGNOSE.

Is there someone able to tell me th edifferent contests they are used in?
Thanks so much in advance..

Ibiscus
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    I'm sure that you've already consulted a dictionary or two, including the WordReference entries that generally feature excellent examples of usage...

    Elucidate and clarify are very similar in meaning; elucidate is used rarely in conversation and might be thought of as pretentious.
    To unravel would be, in this context, to solve a riddle, question, or problem.
    To diagnose is to identify something or to identify its causes or sources.
     

    Ibiscus

    Senior Member
    Northern Italian
    Yes, I've already consulted Wordreference dictionary, but the problem is that it put some of the verbs as sinonims..
    I have to do an exercise, for a writing class, where I need to distinguish these verbs meaning and use.
     

    Estiben

    Member
    English USA
    Ibiscus, why don't you Google those words to find examples of the way they are used. That might "clarify" things and you can "exercise" your brain. :p
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    I'm sure that you've already consulted a dictionary or two, including the WordReference entries that generally feature excellent examples of usage...

    Elucidate and clarify are very similar in meaning; elucidate is used rarely in conversation and might be thought of as pretentious.
    To unravel would be, in this context, to solve a riddle, question, or problem.
    To diagnose is to identify something or to identify its causes or sources.
    It might help to consider the fundamental meanings of the words. Elucidate comes from Latin 'lux' (meaning light, as from the sun), so if we elucidate a problem we shed light on it. Sherlock Holmes 'elucidated' many mysteries (as Bibliolept says, this word is a not often used nowadays). Clarify is connected with the word 'clear', and a teacher often tries to 'clarify' things (make them clear) for a student who hasn't understood something. We unravel the meaning of complicated sentences in a book by taking them apart (just as we unravel tangled hair). Incidentally 'analysis' comes from the Greek and originally meant just that, to unravel. Diagnosis is a medical term, of course, meaning the identification of a disease, but we can use the word in non-medical contexts. For example, a teacher might 'diagnose' that a pupil has not done well because they have been playing truant. That's not a good example, but the best I can think of at present! Hope this is some help. :)
     

    joseph leonard

    New Member
    USA English
    In common use, I would distinguish them this way:

    Clarify means to "make clear". It is usually used when giving more "definition" or meaning to some fact or information already given. "Would you please clarify what you mean by "lower taxes"?

    Elucidate means to "bring into the light". It is usually used when explaining the meaning or showing the beauty of something profound or mysterious. "He elucidated beautifully the intricacies of the human eye."

    Unravel means "untwist". It usually refers to solving a mystery or puzzle by separating individual facts out of a larger set of facts. "Copernicus unraveled the mystery of our solar system's planetary movements."

    Diagnos means "to know which". It is usually used when examining someone or something for a specific sickness or problem. "The mechanic will diagnos your car electronically."

    In Short:
    Clarify: add and subtract to make clear
    Elucidate: shine on to reveal
    Unravel: separate to solve
    Diagnos: examine to find specific problem
     
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