comprehend

verb
com·​pre·​hend | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhend How to pronounce comprehend (audio) , -prē-\
comprehended; comprehending; comprehends

Definition of comprehend

transitive verb

1 : to grasp the nature, significance, or meaning of unable to comprehend what has happened
2 : to contain or hold within a total scope, significance, or amount … philosophy's scope comprehends the truth of everything which man may understand …— Henry Osborn Taylor
3 : to include by construction or implication Does not prudence comprehend all the virtues?— Thomas B. Silver Our civilization comprehends great variety and complexity …— Perry Meisel

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Other Words from comprehend

comprehendible \ ˌkäm-​pri-​ˈhen-​də-​bəl How to pronounce comprehendible (audio) , -​prē-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for comprehend

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

include, comprehend, embrace, involve mean to contain within as part of the whole. include suggests the containment of something as a constituent, component, or subordinate part of a larger whole. the price of dinner includes dessert comprehend implies that something comes within the scope of a statement or definition. his system comprehends all history embrace implies a gathering of separate items within a whole. her faith embraces both Christian and non-Christian beliefs involve suggests inclusion by virtue of the nature of the whole, whether by being its natural or inevitable consequence. the new job involves a lot of detail

Did You Know?

To comprehend is to mentally grasp something's complete nature or meaning. Comprehend is thus often a bit stronger than understand: for example, you may understand the instructions in a handbook without completely comprehending their purpose. Comprehend's second meaning is much less common. Using that sense of the word, we could say that good manners comprehends (that is, includes) more than simple table etiquette, for example, or that true courage comprehends more than just physical showing off. And something comprehensive includes a great deal: so a comprehensive exam, for instance, includes all the material that was studied in the course.

Examples of comprehend in a Sentence

the age at which children can comprehend the difference between right and wrong it took me a while to comprehend algebra

Recent Examples on the Web

Nobody could ever comprehend that one (quite likeable, despite his obvious flaws) man's career could crumble so quickly, with so many eyes watching. SI.com, "The Second Coming of Pepe: Sergio Ramos Is the Perfect B*stard Who'll Do Whatever it Takes to Win," 27 May 2018 On Wall Street, as the world tried to comprehend what was happening to the economy, the Manhattan Company Building finished its steelwork as the second tallest building in the world—and Severance didn’t even know it. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 These are books in which 3- to 8-year-olds will see themselves represented not in the crude categories of race, class and gender but as young human beings with hearts that throb and minds that try to comprehend. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Best of 2018," 7 Dec. 2018 The final outcome may be determined by a group of voters that neither political team can begin to comprehend... James Freeman, WSJ, "The ‘Politically Obsessed’ and the Rest of Us," 29 Aug. 2018 Our minds cannot comprehend the cruel hate and the twisted malice that could cause a person to unleash such terrible violence during a baby-naming ceremony. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump calls the Pittsburgh shooting “anti-Semitic” and a “wicked act of mass murder”," 27 Oct. 2018 Only a fraction can comprehend a second language enough to use it in their everyday lives. Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle, "Not a good morning for sensitivity from U.S. official," 21 Mar. 2018 The scale of tensions between President Trump and his Chinese counterparts over tariffs and trade can be hard to comprehend when looking at them in aggregate. Justin Worland, Time, "Here Are 5 Ways a Trade War Could Hurt You," 10 Apr. 2018 This show is incredible in ways the mind can’t even comprehend. Kelly Conaboy, The Cut, "Wait — Vanderpump Rules Was Only in Playa del Carmen for 4 Days?!," 10 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comprehend.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of comprehend

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for comprehend

Middle English, from Anglo-French comprendre, comprehendre, from Latin comprehendere, from com- + prehendere to grasp — more at get

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Statistics for comprehend

Last Updated

29 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for comprehend

The first known use of comprehend was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for comprehend

comprehend

verb

English Language Learners Definition of comprehend

somewhat formal : to understand (something, such as a difficult or complex subject)

comprehend

verb
com·​pre·​hend | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhend How to pronounce comprehend (audio) \
comprehended; comprehending

Kids Definition of comprehend

1 : to understand fully
2 : to take in : include

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Comments on comprehend

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