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 Perhaps the government did not fully comprehend the sway of a man with nearly three million Twitter followers, 8.4 million on Instagram and 3.3 million on Facebook. Aimee Lewis, CNN, "Marcus Rashford, the gifted Manchester United star who became a remarkable activist," 17 June 2020 Prine, always looking to comprehend those around him, would’ve been impressed. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A loving, intimate and socially distanced tribute to John Prine," 12 June 2020 Like many long-term care residents suffering from dementia, Lynn struggles to comprehend her loved one’s absence. Paul Bayfield, National Geographic, "For dementia patients and their families, isolation during the pandemic is a heavy burden," 9 June 2020 Grosscup’s success and appeal as a broadcaster came from his ability to impart that knowledge in a way the average fan could comprehend. Steve Kroner, SFChronicle.com, "Longtime Cal football broadcaster Lee Grosscup dies at 83," 2 June 2020 The last few months have been bizarre and hard to comprehend. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Donald Trump's speech about protests wasn't just surreal — it was disturbing. Here's why," 1 June 2020 For all his commitment to nonviolence, however, King understood the way frustration can turn into rage and rage can curdle into nihilism, when injustice is too brutal to comprehend and justice is perpetually deferred. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: For San Antonio, Saturday unrest leads to Sunday healing," 31 May 2020 What follows is an analysis of those forces, and a guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Doesn’t Have to Be This Confusing," 29 Apr. 2020 Most 12-year-olds wouldn’t be able to comprehend it. Dave Collins, courant.com, "As Newtown students grow up, some turn to activism," 11 Dec. 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

25 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehend. Accessed 5 Jul. 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

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!