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"

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 Landmarks were distorted, directions were tangled, and satellite photos were warped beyond comprehension. PCMAG, 4 May 2022 However, to elevate a pet to the level of a person by including them in the obituary is beyond my comprehension. cleveland, 5 Mar. 2022 That sort of understanding would require a broad and basic comprehension of a person’s needs, values, and priorities; without it, mistakes are nearly inevitable. Matthew Hutson, The New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2022 The Literacy Lab’s tutors stress comprehension of vocabulary to help with visualization, says Jax Chaudhry, the organization’s regional director. Washington Post, 26 Aug. 2021 The industry must embrace the notion that having a greater comprehension of the language of disability, specifically invisible disabilities is just good business. Jonathan Kaufman, Forbes, 11 June 2021 Klara has a limited, naive comprehension of the world. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 26 Feb. 2021 Equally crucial is the way schools have taught reading comprehension. Natalie Wexler, Forbes, 31 Jan. 2022 The first passage in the reading comprehension section of some English language and literature exams suggested that women’s growing independence and changing family dynamics had had a negative effect on children’s behavior around their parents. NBC News, 20 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for comprehension

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Comprehension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for comprehension


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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