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

Definition of misunderstand 

transitive verb

1 : to fail to understand

2 : to interpret incorrectly

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

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 And yet German Riesling is still one of the most misunderstood wines in the world. Lettie Teague, WSJ, "The Pro Move? Order the German Riesling," 5 July 2018 The mistaken tendency to avoid arguments, as Carnegie did, results from misunderstanding the point of argument, which is to appreciate each other and work together. Walter Sinnott-armstrong, Time, "How to Win Every Argument," 2 July 2018 Yet, many of the classic songs that casual listeners may assume to be patriotic are anything but, from misunderstood anti-war missives to singalong favorites masking darker meanings. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Misunderstood 'patriotic' songs for the Fourth of July," 29 June 2018 Gatti, who has stated the lawsuits are attacks on Christianity, has stated that his opponents misunderstand how his proposal would work. . . . . . . . Wilborn P. Nobles Iii, NOLA.com, "Organization slams pending passage of Louisiana public school prayer bill," 22 May 2018 In his book The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, writer John Seabrook explained that the confounding lyrics stemmed from Swedish music masterminds who misunderstood American slang. Lydia Price, PEOPLE.com, "These Songs Aren't About What You Think They're About: 8 Surprising Meanings Behind Hits," 30 Mar. 2018 But young children might misunderstand mom’s or dad’s avoidance of family fun as apathy or anger. Daily Intelligencer, "This Unique Approach to Veteran Wellness Puts Family First," 24 May 2018 Furries proclivity for dressing up is sometimes misunderstood as a fetish. Dianna M. Náñez, azcentral, "Arizona GOP lawmaker asks Twitter what furry is, gets a Fursona from #RedforEd supporter," 6 May 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.

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First Known Use of misunderstand

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for misunderstand

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for misunderstand

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

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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

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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).


playful or foolish behavior

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