Definition of construe
1 : to analyze the arrangement and connection of words in (a sentence or sentence part) <construe this Latin sentence by Cicero>
2 : to understand or explain the sense or intention of usually in a particular way or with respect to a given set of circumstances <construed my actions as hostile> <Her frustration was construed as anger.>
: to construe a sentence or sentence part especially in connection with translating
construableplay \-ˈstrü-ə-bəl\ adjective
Examples of construe in a sentence
The way the court construes various words has changed over time.
<the role of the justices of the Supreme Court in construing the constitution>
Did You Know?
Construe can usually be translated as "interpret". It's often used in law; thus, an Attorney General might construe the term "serious injury" in a child-abuse law to include bruises, or a judge might construe language about gifts to "heirs" to include spouses. The IRS's construal of some of your activities might be different from your own—and much more expensive at tax time. Construing is also close to translating; so when the British say "public school", for instance, it should be construed or translated as "prep school" in American terms.
Origin and Etymology of construe
Middle English, from Late Latin construere, from Latin, to construct
First Known Use: 14th century
First Known Use of construe
CONSTRUE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of construe for English Language Learners
: to understand (an action, event, remark, etc.) in a particular way
: to understand the meaning of (a word, phrase, or sentence)
CONSTRUE Defined for Kids
Definition of construe for Students
: to understand or explain the sense or intention of <He mistakenly construed my actions as unfriendly.>
Seen and Heard
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