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 Your mind is struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Grieving made harder by friends’ sharing their own stories," 6 Nov. 2019 Your mind is struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Grieving seems tougher with outside help," 6 Nov. 2019 Your mind is struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Grieving seems tougher with outside help," 6 Nov. 2019 Manager, players and supporters alike were left distraught, unable to comprehend their fate. SI.com, "Napoli 2-4 Lazio: The 90 Minute Champions League Shootout That Had it All," 6 Nov. 2019 Your mind is struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Ask Amy: Grieving seems tougher with outside help," 5 Nov. 2019 Most of us only need to comprehend numbers in the hundreds with two zeros or thousands with three zeros. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: St. Paul police shouldn’t ignore minor offenses," 30 Oct. 2019 In a related question, 88 percent of Americans agreed that understanding history is important for comprehending current events. National Geographic, "What happened to Columbus Day?," 14 Oct. 2019 Christian girl autumn exists only because of hot girl summer To fully comprehend the eruption of Christian girl autumn is to understand how the past few months became known as hot girl summer. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "“Christian girl autumn,” explained.," 14 Aug. 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.

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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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Learn More about comprehend

Time Traveler for comprehend

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for comprehend

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehended. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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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

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