mis·​con·​strue ˌmis-kən-ˈstrü How to pronounce misconstrue (audio)
misconstrued; misconstruing

transitive verb

: to interpret (something, such as a statement or action) wrongly : misinterpret
misconstrued her words/meaning/silence
He does not want his real name used in the newspaper because even the most innocent statement could be misconstrued here and lead to trouble, he says.Lynne Duke
I instantly turned away, lest he should see and misconstrue my emotion.Anne Brontë
: to misinterpret the meaning, intention, or character of (someone)
… it is the post-Vietnam revisionists who have most ironically misconstrued [Herman] Melville.Frederick Crews
… a sad sack whom no one would misconstrue as charming.Karen Karbo

Examples of misconstrue in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some Hawaiian cultural experts say aloha is a complex and fluid idea, too often misconstrued as a sweet and servile way of tolerating visitors. Jenny Jarvie, Los Angeles Times, 19 Oct. 2023 But that nuanced perspective and her contention that her views are being misconstrued are being overwhelmed by an onslaught from the Montgomery Steppe camp. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2023 During the trial, Pete gave tearful testimony about how the story had been misconstrued to center her as the villain. Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2023 In this time, it’s said that communication is often misconstrued, from misunderstandings with family and partners to even tech problems. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 15 Sep. 2023 Her approach to undertaking potentially controversial work like advising the U.S. government was to manage the things that critics might misconstrue. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 21 Oct. 2023 Alicia Keys has clarified a post on social media after receiving backlash from some who misconstrued it as being in support of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Sadie Bell, Peoplemag, 17 Oct. 2023 Black women’s search for accountability after violence has occurred often gets misconstrued as attacks on the character of Black men at large. Claretta Bellamy, NBC News, 18 Sep. 2023 These products are not to be misconstrued with compounded forms of their base molecules. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 24 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'misconstrue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of misconstrue was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near misconstrue

Cite this Entry

“Misconstrue.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misconstrue. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to construe wrongly : misinterpret

More from Merriam-Webster on misconstrue

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!