mis·​un·​der·​stand | \ (ˌ)mi-ˌsən-dər-ˈstand \
misunderstood\ (ˌ)mi-​ˌsən-​dər-​ˈstu̇d \; misunderstanding

Definition of misunderstand

transitive verb

1 : to fail to understand
2 : to interpret incorrectly

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of misunderstand in a Sentence

Don't misunderstand me—I'm not criticizing your decision. He feels that the critics have completely misunderstood his movies. She expressed herself in clear terms that no one could misunderstand.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

In the time since, geishas continue to be exoticized and misunderstood by Western culture, especially around Halloween. Mekita Rivas, Allure, "Fashion Nova's "Sexy" Geisha Costume Is Everything Not to Wear on Halloween This Year," 3 Oct. 2018 Here's what else is often misunderstood about this type of diagnosis. 1. Barbara Brody, Good Housekeeping, "8 Common Myths About Metastatic Breast Cancer," 11 Sep. 2018 The patients who weren’t good with numbers misunderstood more often. Sandy Bauers, Philly.com, "Fear of math is harmful to your health. This woman wants to help.," 29 June 2018 Autism, while prevalent in our society, is often misunderstood. Damar Services, Indianapolis Star, "7 essential things to know when interacting with children with autism," 11 Apr. 2018 Vintage absinthe founds and green candle holders on the bar pay tribute to this famous (and often misunderstood) spirit. Jenna Scatena, Condé Nast Traveler, "16 Best Bars in Austin," 27 Feb. 2018 The fear of appearing too sensitive or misunderstood slowly but surely disappeared. Vanessa Willhoughby, Allure, "The Reality of Navigating the Mental Health System as a Black Woman," 13 Oct. 2018 More: Tony Romo wins Wisconsin amateur golf tournament by nine strokes Don’t misunderstand. Sandra Harwitt, USA TODAY, "Serena Williams on why she might not be cut out for coaching daughter Olympia," 9 July 2018 The school's principal said the aide who asked Malohifo’ou to remove the ta'ovala misunderstood the school's graduation rules. NBC News, "In Utah, flower leis can be a contentious subject at high school graduations," 21 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of misunderstand

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misunderstand

Share misunderstand

Statistics for misunderstand

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misunderstand

The first known use of misunderstand was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for misunderstand



English Language Learners Definition of misunderstand

: to fail to understand (someone or something) correctly


mis·​un·​der·​stand | \ ˌmis-ˌən-dər-ˈstand \
misunderstood\ -​ˈstu̇d \; misunderstanding

Kids Definition of misunderstand

: to fail to get the meaning of : fail to understand

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on misunderstand

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misunderstand

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misunderstand

Spanish Central: Translation of misunderstand

Nglish: Translation of misunderstand for Spanish Speakers

Comments on misunderstand

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


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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