mis·​in·​ter·​pret | \ ˌmi-sᵊn-ˈtər-prət How to pronounce misinterpret (audio) , -pət\
misinterpreted; misinterpreting; misinterprets

Definition of misinterpret

transitive verb

1 : to explain wrongly His comment on the speech misinterprets the speaker's meaning.
2 : to understand wrongly Her silence should not be misinterpreted as consent.

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Examples of misinterpret in a Sentence

He claims that his statements have been misinterpreted by the media. Her silence should not be misinterpreted as consent.
Recent Examples on the Web Mulvaney later said his comments were misinterpreted. Anchorage Daily News, "Mulvaney’s move to join impeachment testimony lawsuit rankles Bolton allies," 11 Nov. 2019 Mulvaney later said his comments were misinterpreted. BostonGlobe.com, "Mulvaney’s move to join impeachment testimony lawsuit rankles Bolton allies - The Boston Globe," 11 Nov. 2019 Jeffrey Huntsinger, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago, said some of the studies Coleman relied on were irrelevant and others were misinterpreted. Travis Loller, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Witnesses clash in Tennessee abortion wait period trial," 25 Sep. 2019 Monsees told lawmakers the comment was misinterpreted. Time, "Juul Exec Says E-Cigarettes Never Intended for Teens," 26 July 2019 Local media reported that Education and Culture Minister Muhajir Effendy said the parade was misinterpreted and the staff of the school, located inside a local military command, had no intention to instill radicalism in children. Fox News, "Indonesian officials defend parade of veiled kids with guns," 21 Aug. 2018 After jumping out to leads of 21-0, then 21-7, Green Bay was in position to add another score right before the half when the Packers quarterback misinterpreted the down. Jim Hoehn / Special To The Pioneer Press, Twin Cities, "Packers withstand Aaron Rodgers’ fourth-down gaffe," 15 Sep. 2019 This is often misinterpreted by saying that people on the spectrum lack empathy. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Love of patterns, order may explain mad math skills—and autism link," 8 Aug. 2018 Much of the broader debate concerns the wishes of Otto Frank, whose thoughts and allegiances changed over the years and whose intentions each party claims the other has misinterpreted. Karen Bartlett, Newsweek, "Bringing Anne Frank Home - to Germany," 5 Feb. 2015

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misinterpret.' 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 misinterpret

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for misinterpret

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for misinterpret

The first known use of misinterpret was in 1547

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More Definitions for misinterpret


How to pronounce misinterpret (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of misinterpret

: to understand or explain (something) incorrectly : to interpret (something) incorrectly

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More from Merriam-Webster on misinterpret

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misinterpret

Spanish Central: Translation of misinterpret

Nglish: Translation of misinterpret for Spanish Speakers

Comments on misinterpret

What made you want to look up misinterpret? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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