understand

verb
un·​der·​stand | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstand \
understood\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstu̇d \; understanding

Definition of understand

transitive verb

1a : to grasp the meaning of understand Russian
b : to grasp the reasonableness of his behavior is hard to understand
c : to have thorough or technical acquaintance with or expertness in the practice of understand finance
d : to be thoroughly familiar with the character and propensities of understands children
2 : to accept as a fact or truth or regard as plausible without utter certainty we understand that he is returning from abroad
3 : to interpret in one of a number of possible ways
4 : to supply in thought as though expressed "to be married" is commonly understood after the word engaged

intransitive verb

1 : to have understanding : have the power of comprehension
2 : to achieve a grasp of the nature, significance, or explanation of something
3 : to believe or infer something to be the case
4 : to show a sympathetic or tolerant attitude toward something

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Other Words from understand

understandability \ ˌən-​dər-​ˌstan-​də-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
understandable \ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstan-​də-​bəl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for understand

understand, comprehend, appreciate mean to have a clear or complete idea of. understand and comprehend are very often interchangeable. understand may, however, stress the fact of having attained a firm mental grasp of something. orders that were fully understood and promptly obeyed comprehend may stress the process of coming to grips with something intellectually. I have trouble comprehending your reasons for doing this appreciate implies a just evaluation or judgment of a thing's value or nature. failed to appreciate the risks involved

Examples of understand in a Sentence

I can't understand a word you're saying. I don't understand these directions. I want you to stay away from her. Do you understand? I don't understand how this is supposed to work. He doesn't really understand the situation. You should read the book in order to understand more about the subject. I can't understand why she would do such a thing. She's beginning to understand what's going on. You have to understand that I had no other choice. At first we didn't get along, but I think we understand each other now.
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Recent Examples on the Web

To understand why that mattered, consider a report this week on the link between K-12 school choice and college success. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Florida’s Voucher Vindication," 8 Feb. 2019 In reality, police, prosecutors and judges have to understand that children are not all angels from heaven. Julie K. Brown, The Seattle Times, "Perversion of Justice: Even from jail, sex abuser manipulated the system. His victims were kept in the dark," 4 Dec. 2018 Roger is the one person who can understand what Bree's going through. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Outlander Sneak Peek: Sophie Skelton Previews What's Next for Brianna and Roger's Relationship," 15 Nov. 2018 For many potential black patients, having someone who understands the nuances of how racial identity factors into mental health means a safe space where one’s voice is finally heard. Vanessa Willhoughby, Allure, "The Reality of Navigating the Mental Health System as a Black Woman," 13 Oct. 2018 The White House would do well to understand that in some ways these groups are its most potent threat. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Trump ‘Ethics’ Resistance," 27 Dec. 2018 The meme was so easy to understand because it was based in a universal language — this sad moment isn’t as sad when characters are disintegrating. Verge Staff, The Verge, "The best memes of 2018, according to The Verge staff," 27 Dec. 2018 Revealed a day early via the @kensingtonroyal Instagram account, in 2018, the Queen urges listeners to overcome their differences and to understand one another. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth's 2018 Christmas Message Calls for 'Respect' & 'Understanding'," 24 Dec. 2018 To understand the greatness of the prank, however, a little background is necessary. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Ryan Reynolds Falls for a Prank Pulled by Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal," 22 Dec. 2018

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

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for understand

Middle English, from Old English understandan, from under + standan to stand

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for understand

The first known use of understand was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for understand

understand

verb

English Language Learners Definition of understand

: to know the meaning of (something, such as the words that someone is saying or a language)
: to know how (something) works or happens
: to know how (someone) thinks, feels, or behaves

understand

verb
un·​der·​stand | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstand \
understood\ -​ˈstu̇d \; understanding

Kids Definition of understand

1 : to get the meaning of Do you understand my instructions?
2 : to know thoroughly I understand Spanish. She understands the situation.
3 : to have reason to believe I understand that they will come today.
4 : to take as meaning something not clearly made known I understand the letter to be a refusal.
5 : to have a sympathetic attitude Don't worry, I understand how you feel.
6 : to accept as settled It is understood that I will pay.

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