com·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhen(t)-shən, -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

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 Hudson is in the eighth grade, but his reading comprehension lags about four years behind. Kerry Cromwell, Good Housekeeping, "My Little Boy Was Just 7 Years Old When He Had a Catastrophic Stroke," 26 July 2018 Sanders and Acosta then went back and forth, until Sanders insulted Acosta's comprehension skills. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "‘You’re a parent!’ Things got personal in the White House briefing room.," 14 June 2018 This includes issues with language comprehension, memory, and visual/perceptual function at age 6 as well as problems with attention, problem-solving, and analytical skills at ages 13-16. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Here’s What You Need to Know About Using Marijuana While Pregnant or Breastfeeding," 12 Oct. 2018 Even that number, the number of symbols, is virtually beyond comprehension. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Wrap Your Head Around the Enormity of the Number TREE(3)," 20 Oct. 2017 But his recent comments reveal his lack of comprehension about the scope of what the players want to change. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "NFL players are protesting systemic racism. Trump wants to solve it with pardons.," 15 June 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for comprehension

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

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English Language Learners Definition of comprehension

: ability to understand


com·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌkäm-pri-ˈhen-shən \

Kids Definition of comprehension

: ability to understand reading comprehension beyond comprehension

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Comments on comprehension

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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