1

construe

verb con·strue \ kən-ˈstrü \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of construe

construed; construing
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

construable

play \kən-ˈstrü-ə-bəl\ adjective

construe was our Word of the Day on 07/03/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of construe in a Sentence

  1. The way the court construes various words has changed over time.

  2. the role of the justices of the Supreme Court in construing the constitution

Recent Examples of construe from the Web

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.

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


2

construe

noun con·strue \ ˈkän-ˌstrü \

Definition of construe

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

First Known Use of construe

1844

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms


CONSTRUE Defined for English Language Learners

construe

verb

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

construe

verb con·strue \ kən-ˈstrü \

Definition of construe for Students

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


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