comprehend

verb
com·​pre·​hend | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhend, -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 , -​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

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 The offspring of lab rats that were exposed to marijuana smoke during pregnancy took longer to learn and comprehend tasks than rats whose mothers weren't exposed to THC, researchers found. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "‘Something wasn’t clicking’: WSU study shows offspring of pregnant rats exposed to THC have impaired development," 20 Nov. 2018 Our minds are not equipped to comprehend those numbers. Maya Singer, Vogue, "The Price of Free Tells the Story of Human Rights Activist Kailash Satyarthi, Whose Efforts Have Rescued 80,000 Child Factory Workers in India," 29 Oct. 2018 Photo: Elise Amendola/Associated Press Think of how hard that is for a 4-year-old to comprehend. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Another Red Sox Title? Think of Boston’s Children," 21 Oct. 2018 The longtime non-profit’s physical space remains easy to comprehend, at least, so Graham starts there. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "The Internet’s keepers? “Some call us hoarders—I like to say we’re archivists”," 7 Oct. 2018 The challenge of visualizing things like light-years and eons, which our brains just weren’t meant to comprehend, is that they weren’t really meant to exist on Earth. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, "How to Make a Scale Model of the Universe," 21 Aug. 2018 And much like Patrice, many people feel unsure of where to turn for reliable and easy-to-comprehend retirement advice. Stephanie Walden, USA TODAY, "How to find balance and get your retirement plan back on track," 13 July 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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Last Updated

25 Dec 2018

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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

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

comprehend

verb
com·​pre·​hend | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhend \
comprehended; comprehending

Kids Definition of comprehend

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

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