com·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhen(t)-shən How to pronounce comprehension (audio) , -prē-\

Definition of comprehension

1a : the act or action of grasping with the intellect : understanding children who have difficulty with comprehension of spoken language What the artist actually needs is comprehension of his aims and ideals by men he respects …— H. L. Mencken
b : knowledge gained by comprehending tests that measure the students' comprehension in math She carried on with full comprehension of the risk involved.
c : the capacity for understanding fully mysteries that are beyond our comprehension The war caused suffering beyond comprehension.
2a : the act or process of comprising the comprehension of all the denominations into one Church
b : the faculty or capability of including : comprehensiveness the broad comprehension of the word "animal"

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Examples of comprehension in a Sentence

The students showed excellent reading comprehension. the president's comprehension of the current situation in the Middle East

Recent Examples on the Web

Another study, unrelated to Mayr's work, also found that people perform better on reading comprehension tests when the text had positive polarity—that is, dark text on a light background. Arielle Pardes, WIRED, "Do You Really Need Dark Mode?," 8 June 2019 With each turn of a card, the next act is revealed, and in a flash the world can end, devoured in the misshapen gullet of an entity beyond mortal comprehension. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Arkham Horror Third Edition: The classic Lovecraft adventure returns," 24 Nov. 2018 As artificial intelligence evolves, the technical flaws should improve, thanks to better data and language comprehension models, experts say. Daniela Hernandez, WSJ, "Meet the Chatbots Providing Mental Health Care," 9 Aug. 2018 The most recent iteration of these tests was given to about half a million students in a total of 71 countries and, so, provides a trans-national measure of students' skills in math, science, and reading comprehension. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Women go into science careers more often in countries without gender equality," 19 Feb. 2018 Duff How denying investment and job creation is going to help anybody is beyond my comprehension. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "Readers React to Amazon’s New York Reversal," 14 Feb. 2019 According to Kenzie, the teacher showed a YouTube clip about Marie Laveau, and then began asking students comprehension questions about the film, staying in character the whole time. Teen Vogue, "New Mexico Teacher Accused of Calling a Native Student a "Bloody Indian" and Cutting Another's Hair on Halloween," 3 Dec. 2018 Supplemental math classes were being considered for students who either need extra help or show signs of quick comprehension. Priscella Vega,, "Advanced math classes will continue in Newport-Mesa middle schools," 11 July 2018 When Roberts showed no sign of comprehension, Lili persisted. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Too Much Horsepower," 24 Dec. 2012

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comprehension.' 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 comprehension

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for comprehension

Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin comprehension-, comprehensio, from comprehendere to understand, comprise

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Statistics for comprehension

Last Updated

14 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for comprehension

The first known use of comprehension was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for comprehension



English Language Learners Definition of comprehension

: ability to understand


com·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhen-shən How to pronounce comprehension (audio) \

Kids Definition of comprehension

: ability to understand reading comprehension beyond comprehension

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Comments on comprehension

What made you want to look up comprehension? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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