mis·​un·​der·​stand | \ (ˌ)mi-ˌsən-dər-ˈstand How to pronounce misunderstand (audio) \
misunderstood\ (ˌ)mi-​ˌsən-​dər-​ˈstu̇d How to pronounce misunderstood (audio) \; 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 Instead, poor Latke, a shelter dog who is adopted during the Festival of Lights, proceeds to misunderstand all of the annual traditions and cause all sorts of trouble for his new family – much to the delight of young readers. Ryan E. Smith, Cincinnati.com, "Hanukkah books for kids come with important lessons," 20 Dec. 2019 But the Vikings were confident that he was misunderstood. Charley Walters, Twin Cities, "Charley Walters: Vikings need three wins to make playoffs," 30 Nov. 2019 Prosecutors appeared to have misunderstood that AIF was working with Britain’s financial intelligence unit to try to catch the businessmen who were fleecing the Holy See in the real estate deal. Washington Post, "Pope replaces financial watchdog head amid fallout from raid," 18 Nov. 2019 Newsom seems to misunderstand the importance that Californians attach to transporting themselves and their families and how muddled policy pronouncements can backfire. Dan Walters, Orange County Register, "Gov. Newsom fumbles on transportation," 23 Oct. 2019 America is glorious and bleak, lonely and kind, a million things at once—to suggest otherwise might be to misunderstand the place and its potential entirely. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Wanting to See Like Robert Frank," 10 Sep. 2019 The gentleladies were not merely leaning into vanity, that often misunderstood commitment to caring about how one moves through this world. Washington Post, "Nancy Pelosi’s pin at the impeachment debate was a declaration: The republic will survive this," 18 Dec. 2019 But the evidence in at least three cases points to failures that once again caused inmates to languish, at times painfully so, as their treatments were delayed or their symptoms misunderstood. Danny Robbins, ajc, "Women’s deaths raise new concerns about prison medical care," 13 Dec. 2019 Simply put, without the Food Depository’s help, pantries like the one at Harmony church would struggle to meet the need in their communities, a need that’s often wildly misunderstood. Rex Huppke, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Working two jobs, but can’t afford food for the family. That, dear reader, is where you come in.," 10 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler for misunderstand

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for misunderstand

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Misunderstand.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misunderstand. Accessed 26 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for misunderstand


How to pronounce misunderstand (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of misunderstand

: to fail to understand (someone or something) correctly


mis·​un·​der·​stand | \ ˌmis-ˌən-dər-ˈstand How to pronounce misunderstand (audio) \
misunderstood\ -​ˈstu̇d \; misunderstanding

Kids Definition of misunderstand

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to express in a more acceptable way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!