understand

verb
un·​der·​stand | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstand How to pronounce understand (audio) \
understood\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstu̇d How to pronounce understood (audio) \; 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 How to pronounce understandability (audio) \ noun
understandable \ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstan-​də-​bəl How to pronounce understandable (audio) \ 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 Being aware of the situation allows them to understand that certain work obligations are just a part of our lives. Diane J. Cho, PEOPLE.com, "Rent the Runway Founder Jenny Fleiss on Launching 2 Businesses with 3 Kids Under 10," 1 Dec. 2019 Wildlife managers want to better understand why reddish egrets around Florida have continued to flounder. Jenny Staletovich, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida’s red tide is back. One of North America’s rarest bird species is among its latest victims," 30 Nov. 2019 To understand why, go back to the 1970s when a first wave of macro traders, including George Soros and Michael Marcus, made their names and a lot of their money. The Economist, "Buttonwood Do not write off the macro hedge-fund manager just yet," 28 Nov. 2019 To better understand the similarities in music that could provide insight into its biological roots, a team of researchers focused on music with lyrics. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian, "Scientists Show Humans May Share a ‘Musical Grammar’," 27 Nov. 2019 To understand what was going on at a microscopic level, King reached out to animal movement expert Mattia Gazzola and his graduate student Fan Kiat Chan at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Could this desert beetle help humans harvest water from thin air?," 27 Nov. 2019 Whole subfields of research have grown up around biologists’ attempts to understand the relationships among the core genes involved in aging, which seem to connect highly disparate biological functions, like metabolism and perception. Quanta Magazine, "Longevity Linked to Proteins That Calm Overexcited Neurons," 26 Nov. 2019 This allows her students to understand what sharing means as well as cooperation among a community. Shondiin Silversmith, azcentral, "These Arizona schools focus on Native culture and traditions rather than Thanksgiving," 26 Nov. 2019 Asylum-seekers and immigrants are encouraged to attend monthly navigation workshops to help them file paperwork and to understand how their case will progress. oregonlive, "Oregon funds program to help immigrants with legal aid," 23 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for understand

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for understand

Last Updated

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Understand.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/understand. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for understand

understand

verb
How to pronounce understand (audio)

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 How to pronounce understand (audio) \
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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Comments on understand

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