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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, during a contentious press briefing, sought to tamp down controversy yet again -- chalking up the furor to another misunderstanding. Brooke Singman, Fox News, "Trump touches off new Russia controversy – and prompts new clarification," 19 July 2018 Nevertheless, be sensitive to a misunderstanding that could be brewing. BostonGlobe.com, "We can’t afford to replace empathy with apathy," 29 June 2018 Communication breakdowns and a pressure-cooker environment in emergency departments, where life-or-death decisions often have to be made within minutes, also contribute to misunderstandings, other experts said. Judith Graham, Washington Post, "The story must be told.," 14 June 2018 Fear and discomfort around bondage and kink typically come out of misunderstanding what BDSM is—and is not. Gigi Engle, SELF, "5 Ways to Ease Your Partner Into Trying Bondage and Kink," 28 Sep. 2018 Trying to keep them in the dollhouse is the biggest misunderstanding of all, and whoever is killing these young girls might be especially attuned to that rebellion. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "Pointed Observations About Sharp Objects Episode 2," 16 July 2018 Warren County attorneys say the lawsuit stems from a misunderstanding of adoption assistance law and that all families agreed to their subsidies. Keith Bierygolick, Cincinnati.com, "Addicted, abused and unable to count: a federal lawsuit about damaged kids in Warren County," 12 July 2018 Local business owners say that public misconceptions about the volcano’s effects and a basic misunderstanding about the geography of Hawaii is keeping tourists away and hurting businesses even far from the danger zone. Gabby Raymond, Time, "Hawaiians Blame Misunderstanding of Volcano and 'Doomsday' Headlines for Big Drop in Tourism," 21 June 2018 Whether there is truly a discrepancy in her account or a misunderstanding in her conversations on the Hill is unclear. Shane Harris, Washington Post, "Gina Haspel’s nomination to head CIA faces some opposition in Senate," 13 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of misunderstanding

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for misunderstanding

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

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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

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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).


living or existing for a long time

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