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 comprehend (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 ongoing disruption or even obliteration of all of this is hard to comprehend or abide. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "How Restaurants Survive the Long Pandemic Winter," 22 Feb. 2021 That might be difficult to comprehend, so how about an example? Rhett Allain, Wired, "Can Hamburger Buns Save Your Pipes from Freezing?," 20 Feb. 2021 For some who knew Jackson, the sheer breadth of his post-football passions is part of what made this week's news all the more difficult to comprehend. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Vincent Jackson's death confounds those who knew him, saw him thrive after football," 18 Feb. 2021 Because without it, this season is difficult to comprehend. Scott Kushner, NOLA.com, "Kushner: Where are the Pelicans' 'elite competitors' David Griffin promised?," 22 Jan. 2021 Although there are plenty of reasons for the market’s comeback, not the least of which is the Federal Reserve’s massive intervention, the staggering rally is still difficult to comprehend for many investors. Akane Otani, WSJ, "Lessons From a Crazy Year in Financial Markets," 31 Dec. 2020 All of that has made Prater's struggles more difficult both to comprehend and explain. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "With free agency looming, Detroit Lions' Matt Prater's struggles are not lessening," 10 Dec. 2020 This is difficult to comprehend as our Birmingham region has been stuck in a rut since the 1960′s and where Jefferson County has had zero population growth for 50 years. David Sher, al, "Did it take a pandemic to ignite Birmingham’s economy?," 6 Dec. 2020 However, the contest between proponents of originalism and common-good constitutionalism actually signals how rapidly and completely liberals have lost their grip on—and indeed barely comprehend—the national conversation. Peter Hammond Schwartz, The New Republic, "Originalism Is Dead. Long Live Catholic Natural Law.," 3 Feb. 2021

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

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Comprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comprehend. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for comprehend

comprehend

verb

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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