Definition of comprehend
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>
comprehendibleplay \-ˈhen-də-bəl\ adjective
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>
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.
Origin and Etymology of comprehend
Middle English, from Anglo-French comprendre, comprehendre, from Latin comprehendere, from com- + prehendere to grasp — more at get
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of comprehend
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>.
COMPREHEND Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of comprehend for English Language Learners
: to understand (something, such as a difficult or complex subject)
COMPREHEND Defined for Kids
Seen and Heard
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