mis·​un·​der·​stand·​ing | \ (ˌ)mi-ˌsən-dər-ˈstan-diŋ \

Definition of misunderstanding

1 : a failure to understand : misinterpretation The instructions were carefully written to prevent misunderstanding.
2 : quarrel, disagreement an unfortunate misunderstanding between two old friends

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of misunderstanding in a Sentence

The instructions are carefully written in order to avoid misunderstanding. Her comments reflect a misunderstanding of the basic problem. using clear language to avoid misunderstandings an unfortunate misunderstanding between old friends We had our little misunderstandings in the past but we managed to clear them up long ago.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But Inglewood officials argue that the current controversy is the result of a misunderstanding over how long policing records must be preserved. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "A California city plans to shred years of police records before a new law makes them public," 27 Dec. 2018 Given that real 5G will be rare and limited for the next year or more, this tiny little branding change could lead to a great deal of misunderstanding around the state of the next-generation wireless technology. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "AT&T will put a fake 5G logo on its 4G LTE phones," 21 Dec. 2018 Response: Kozinski partially apologized but also framed some of the accusations as a misunderstanding. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "From Weinstein to Lauer: A timeline of 2017's sexual harassment scandals," 26 May 2018 VanderLann said the drop in tourism from misunderstandings about the volcano has hurt many local residents. Gabby Raymond, Time, "Hawaiians Blame Misunderstanding of Volcano and 'Doomsday' Headlines for Big Drop in Tourism," 21 June 2018 There can be no misunderstandings about a proud group currently riding a bullet train toward 100 losses. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Explaining — not endorsing — what the Royals are doing in rebuilding the franchise," 20 June 2018 There is love at the root of all their relationships, despite misunderstandings about their beliefs. Lisa Fogarty, Good Housekeeping, "The "Roseanne" Reboot Is Exactly What We Need Right Now," 10 Apr. 2018 According to Pitts and Wetzel, the skepticism Native recruits face is owed to cultural misunderstanding, and the inadequate support systems in place as a result. Abe Streep, New York Times, "What the Arlee Warriors Were Playing For," 4 Apr. 2018 There are serious moments too and arguments and misunderstandings about divorce. Jessi Virtusio, Post-Tribune, "L'arc en Ciel marks season with 'Funny Valentines'," 15 Feb. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about misunderstanding

Share misunderstanding

Statistics for misunderstanding

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for misunderstanding

The first known use of misunderstanding was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for misunderstanding



English Language Learners Definition of misunderstanding

: a failure to understand something
: a usually minor argument or disagreement


mis·​un·​der·​stand·​ing | \ ˌmis-ˌən-dər-ˈstan-diŋ\

Kids Definition of misunderstanding

1 : a failure to get the meaning of : a failure to understand

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on misunderstanding

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


excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!