1. An exclamation or oath, especially one that is profane, vulgar, or obscene.
a. A word or phrase that does not contribute any meaning but is added only to fill out a sentence or a metrical line.
b. Linguistics A word or other grammatical element that has no meaning but is needed to fill a syntactic position, such as the words it and there in the sentences It's raining and There are many books on the table.
Added or inserted in order to fill out something, such as a sentence or a metrical line.
[From Late Latin explētīvus, serving to fill out, from Latin explētus, past participle of explēre, to fill out : ex-, ex- + plēre, to fill; see pelə-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.