verb \ˌən-dər-ˈstand\

: to know the meaning of (something, such as the words that someone is saying or a language)

: to know how (something) works or happens

: to know how (someone) thinks, feels, or behaves


Full Definition of UNDERSTAND

transitive verb
a :  to grasp the meaning of <understand Russian>
b :  to grasp the reasonableness of <his behavior is hard to understand>
c :  to have thorough or technical acquaintance with or expertness in the practice of <understand finance>
d :  to be thoroughly familiar with the character and propensities of <understands children>
:  to accept as a fact or truth or regard as plausible without utter certainty <we understand that he is returning from abroad>
:  to interpret in one of a number of possible ways
:  to supply in thought as though expressed <“to be married” is commonly understood after the word engaged>
intransitive verb
:  to have understanding :  have the power of comprehension
:  to achieve a grasp of the nature, significance, or explanation of something
:  to believe or infer something to be the case
:  to show a sympathetic or tolerant attitude toward something
un·der·stand·abil·i·ty \-ˌstan-də-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
un·der·stand·able \-ˈstan-də-bəl\ adjective

Examples of UNDERSTAND

  1. I can't understand a word you're saying.
  2. I don't understand these directions.
  3. I want you to stay away from her. Do you understand?
  4. I don't understand how this is supposed to work.
  5. He doesn't really understand the situation.
  6. You should read the book in order to understand more about the subject.
  7. I can't understand why she would do such a thing.
  8. She's beginning to understand what's going on.
  9. You have to understand that I had no other choice.
  10. At first we didn't get along, but I think we understand each other now.


Middle English, from Old English understandan, from under + standan to stand
First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of UNDERSTAND

understand, comprehend, appreciate mean to have a clear or complete idea of. understand and comprehend are very often interchangeable. understand may, however, stress the fact of having attained a firm mental grasp of something <orders that were fully understood and promptly obeyed>. comprehend may stress the process of coming to grips with something intellectually <I have trouble comprehending your reasons for doing this>. appreciate implies a just evaluation or judgment of a thing's value or nature <failed to appreciate the risks involved>.


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