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

But according to one basketball insider, Irving didn’t comprehend the full lesson., "Kyrie Irving is making the same mistake LeBron made in Cleveland," 18 June 2019 Even so, Rohrer still could not comprehend how Jews might move to Germany, as the Milky Protest’s Facebook campaign urged. Curt Schleier,, "Grandchildren of Holocaust survivor, Nazi officer collaborate on documentary," 12 June 2019 Perhaps the easiest way of comprehending Vertigo’s influence is looking at how much the rest of the comics industry learned from it. Christian Holub,, "DC Comics shutters its legendary Vertigo imprint in reorganization," 21 June 2019 Joseph Allen’s brother is struggling to comprehend how his brother could have suddenly died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Ninth American tourist dies in Dominican Republic," 19 June 2019 Where once was Grace now is Yūgen, an ambitious restaurant named after the Japanese concept of awareness of the universe’s infinite beauty and mystery and our ability, as mere mortals, to comprehend it. Adam Erace, Fortune, "Review: The Food at Chicago’s Yūgen Is Delightful but Sometimes Overwrought," 9 June 2019 Ralph Harvey, the team’s principal investigator and team leader, offered me several blackboard sessions, which took me to the margins of my ability to comprehend the sometimes esoteric chemistry involved. Barry Lopez, Harper's magazine, "Polar Light," 10 Jan. 2019 Nobody could ever comprehend that one (quite likeable, despite his obvious flaws) man's career could crumble so quickly, with so many eyes watching., "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 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

10 Jul 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



English Language Learners Definition of comprehend

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


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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