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

Keep scrolling for more

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 In an age when information and processing power is easily available, the most critical 21st-century skills are the cognitive abilities to comprehend and solve problems. Azeez Gupta, Quartz India, "To fix the education system that’s failing its children, India must think of pre-school learning," 3 Feb. 2020 So while active-safety systems are getting smarter, clearly they still can't be trusted to fully comprehend the ingenuity of humans. Roberto Baldwin, Car and Driver, "Autopilot and Mobileye Driver-Assist Systems Fooled by a Projector," 30 Jan. 2020 Our bodies have endured unfathomable feats that our minds barely have time to comprehend what has actually happened. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Sarah Hyland Posted a Photo She "Hated" To Inspire Body Positivity," 26 Nov. 2019 Our bodies have endured unfathomable feats that our minds barely have time to comprehend what has actually happened. Stacey Leasca, Allure, "Sarah Hyland Shared a Body-Positive Message for 'Fellow Invisible Illness Warriors'," 24 Nov. 2019 In fact, much of the message’s first minute is difficult to comprehend, in part because the voice of the other man in the conversation is muffled and barely intelligible. Rich Schapiro, NBC News, "Rudy Giuliani butt-dials NBC reporter, heard discussing need for cash and trashing Bidens," 25 Oct. 2019 The impact this has on surviving families is difficult to comprehend. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Why are so many women dying in L.A. County?," 20 Sep. 2019 Even with all the issues that followed Brown in Pittsburgh, this ordeal has been beyond difficult to comprehend. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Kliff Kingsbury had a hilarious response to Antonio Brown's helmet issues," 12 Aug. 2019 Keeper, whose machinations and pronouncements provide much of the conflict in this ephemeral and wildly idiosyncratic play, is very hard to comprehend. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "Review: For Steppenwolf’s 'Lindiwe,’ the story should be Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Instead it goes somewhere strange.," 17 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about comprehend

Time Traveler for comprehend

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for comprehend

Last Updated

2 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehend. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for comprehend

comprehend

verb
How to pronounce comprehend (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on comprehend

What made you want to look up comprehend? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!