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 The circumstances of Sunday's tragic helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant and eight other people were painful to comprehend. Andrea Barbalich, TheWeek, "How to talk to your kids about Kobe Bryant's death," 28 Jan. 2020 Others bark on cellphones and hold briefcases handcuffed to their wrists, sealing deals using lingo that outsiders can’t comprehend. Barak Richman, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Manhattan’s Diamond District Continues To Operate Like an Old World Bazaar," 16 Jan. 2020 Our bodies have endured unfathomable feats that our minds barely have time to comprehend what has actually happened. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Sarah Hyland Sends Body Positive Message to ‘Fellow Invisible Illness Warriors’," 25 Nov. 2019 Shelley Gilbert, his mother, insisted after the sentencing that her son was mentally ill and could not comprehend his actions. Edmund Demarche | Fox News, Fox News, "Princeton grad gets maximum sentence in killing of hedge-fund father," 28 Sep. 2019 The droid is described as an innocent incapable of lying or comprehending sarcasm, but at least IG-11 looks pretty proficient with weapons in the trailer. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Disney leans hard into Space Western territory in new Mandalorian trailer," 29 Oct. 2019 Jones the businessman comprehends the concept of a sunk cost. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "For Cowboys’ Garrett, consistency not an asset," 17 Oct. 2019 Our time is increasingly defined by the developments of digital technology, with untold impacts and unclear chains of moral responsibilities, and philosophy has stepped up in attempting to comprehend them. Alexis Papazoglou, WIRED, "Silicon Valley's Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work," 27 Aug. 2019 As long as free trade deals are open, comprehended, balanced . . Arkansas Online, "EDITORIAL: Trade winds," 12 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

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehending. Accessed 18 Feb. 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

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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!