Words related to *pele-
"open space, level or sloping, especially in front of a fortification," 1590s, from French esplanade (15c.), from Spanish esplanada "large level area," noun use of fem. past participle of esplanar "make level," from Latin explanare "make level, flatten," from ex "out" (see ex-) + planus "flat" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread"). Or perhaps the French word is from or influenced by Italian spianata, from spianare.
early 15c., explanen, "make (something) clear in the mind, to make intelligible," from Latin explanare "to explain, make clear, make plain," literally "make level, flatten," from ex "out" (see ex-) + planus "flat" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread").
The spelling was altered by influence of plain. Also see plane (v.2). In 17c., occasionally used more literally, of the unfolding of material things: Evelyn has buds that "explain into leaves" ["Sylva, or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesties dominions," 1664]. Related: Explained; explaining; explains. To explain (something) away "to deprive of significance by explanation, nullify or get rid of the apparent import of," generally with an adverse implication, is from 1709.
"an act of explaining; a meaning or interpretation assigned," late 14c., explanacioun, from Latin explanationem (nominative explanatio) "an explanation, interpretation," noun of action from past-participle stem of explanare "to make plain or clear, explain," literally "make level, flatten," from ex "out" (see ex-) + planus "flat" (from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread").
An individual fact is said to be explained, by pointing out its cause, that is, by stating the law or laws of causation of which its production is an instance. Thus. a conflagration is explained, when it is proved to have arisen from a spark falling into the midst of a heap of combustibles. [J.S. Mill, "Logic"]
Old English feld "plain, pasture, open land, cultivated land" (as opposed to woodland), also "a parcel of land marked off and used for pasture or tillage," probably related to Old English folde "earth, land," from Proto-Germanic *felthan "flat land" (Cognates: Old Saxon and Old Frisian feld "field," Old Saxon folda "earth," Middle Dutch velt, Dutch veld Old High German felt, German Feld "field," but not found originally outside West Germanic; Swedish fält, Danish felt are borrowed from German; Finnish pelto "field" is believed to have been adapted from Proto-Germanic). This is from PIE *pel(e)-tu-, from root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread." The English spelling with -ie- probably is the work of Anglo-French scribes (compare brief, piece).
As "battle-ground," c. 1300. Meaning "sphere or range of any related things" is from mid-14c. Physics sense is from 1845. Collective use for "all engaged in a sport" (or, in horse-racing, all but the favorite) is 1742; play the field "avoid commitment" (1936) is from notion of gamblers betting on other horses than the favorite. Cricket and baseball sense of "ground on which the game is played" is from 1875. Sense of "tract of ground where something is obtained or extracted" is from 1859. As an adjective in Old English combinations, often with a sense of "rural, rustic" (feldcirice "country-church," feldlic "rural"). Of slaves, "assigned to work in the fields" (1817, in field-hand), opposed to house. A field-trial originally was of hunting dogs.
"habitual loafer, idle man about town," 1854, from French flâneur, from flâner "to stroll, loaf, saunter," probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse flana "to wander aimlessly," Norwegian flana, flanta "to gad about"), perhaps from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread." Related: flânerie.