con·​strue | \ kən-ˈstrü How to pronounce construe (audio) \
construed; construing

Definition of construe

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

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.

intransitive verb

: to construe a sentence or sentence part especially in connection with translating


con·​strue | \ ˈkän-ˌstrü How to pronounce construe (audio) \

Definition of construe (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act or the result of construing especially by piecemeal translation

Other Words from construe


construable \ kən-​ˈstrü-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce construe (audio) \ adjective

Did you know?

Construe comes from the Latin verb construere, meaning "to construct." There is also misconstrue, meaning "to put a wrong construction (that is, a wrong interpretation) on" or "to misinterpret."

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.

Examples of construe in a Sentence

Verb The way the court construes various words has changed over time. the role of the justices of the Supreme Court in construing the constitution
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even in the context of broad Western effort to arm Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin could easily construe jets taking off from a NATO base in Germany to eventually fight Russians as NATO fighting Russians. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not construe any such information as investment advice. Kathleen Craig, Forbes, 12 Oct. 2021 So don’t construe McGrath not appearing on After the Altar as a lack of support or disinterest. Lia Beck,, 1 Aug. 2021 Another way to construe the count is to consider that there are about 700 or so car crashes every hour of every day, somewhere in the United States. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 June 2021 Please don't construe this as an argument against diversification. Ben Marks And Brett Angel, Star Tribune, 19 June 2021 My concern is that MIL will construe any communication from us as an invitation to visit. Washington Post, 17 June 2021 The ordinance states county officials and employees will not interpret or construe any legislation in any manner that would deny or disparage the Bill of Rights or Declaration of Rights, and will guard against any encroachments on either. Thomas Saccente, Arkansas Online, 16 Mar. 2021 These Republican attorneys general say that, once the tax penalty has been taken away, there is no longer any choice in the matter, and thus no way to construe the Affordable Care Act to give people that choice. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 14 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'construe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of construe


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1844, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for construe


Middle English, from Late Latin construere, from Latin, to construct

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The first known use of construe was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Construe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for construe


con·​strue | \ kən-ˈstrü How to pronounce construe (audio) \
construed; construing

Kids Definition of construe

: to understand or explain the sense or intention of He mistakenly construed my actions as unfriendly.

More from Merriam-Webster on construe

Nglish: Translation of construe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of construe for Arabic Speakers


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