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 The fact that a loved one dies, simply ceases to be, can be difficult enough to comprehend. Elisabeth Åsbrink, Time, "The Holocaust Was an Attempt to Erase Millions of People. Today, the World Must Honor the Evidence That They Existed," 21 Apr. 2020 But the non-black people at the conference could not comprehend or explain this a priori species division between the human and the slave. Frank B. Wilderson Iii, Harper's Magazine, "Color Theory," 30 Mar. 2020 Those experiences may bear little direct relevance to the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, whose potential devastation remains difficult to comprehend. Justin Baer, WSJ, "Where Markets Go From Here: Wall Street’s Biggest Names Weigh In," 28 Mar. 2020 Things get worse every day and look likely to do so for some time, but that continuum—let alone the concept of consequences—is something Trump himself just cannot comprehend. David Roth, The New Republic, "Trump Finds His Own Dumb Endless War," 16 Apr. 2020 Chinese journalists and doctors have criticized the government's reaction to the outbreak, saying officials did not fully comprehend the threat of the virus and then tried to downplay the threat. TheWeek, "Chinese doctor who warned others of Wuhan coronavirus dies," 6 Feb. 2020 Most legislators are still trying to fully comprehend the situation. Elwood Brehmer, Anchorage Daily News, "Oil price war could cost Alaska hundreds of millions in revenue," 16 Mar. 2020 Watching them try to comprehend new things is really amazing to witness. Diane J. Cho, PEOPLE.com, "This Father of Two Wants Men Who've Experienced Miscarriages to Know That It's Okay to Grieve, Too," 1 Dec. 2019 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

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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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

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehend. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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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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Comments on comprehend

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