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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Deranamie understands the importance of his role in the food supply and keeping Americans fed. USA Today, "‘Essential worker just means you’re on the death track’," 5 May 2020 Kio Cyr may not understand his fame, but that’s ok—the star’s millions of fans totally get it. Kori Williams, Seventeen, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About TikTok Star Kio Cyr," 30 Apr. 2020 Morrissey understands the snotty, cowardly nature of media braggarts as well as those who envy the commanding heights. Armond White, National Review, "Morrissey’s Prophetic Journal of the Plague Year," 29 Apr. 2020 Appears willful—but even then, the audience understands that Mummy isn’t really talking. Jason Kehe, Wired, "What Great Zombie Movies Say About This ‘Zombie’ ‘Apocalypse’," 29 Apr. 2020 This must be done in a language and at a level that the participant is able to understand. Gale Ure, Quartz Africa, "African scientists must make sure they are part of the search for a coronavirus vaccine," 25 Apr. 2020 So, too, does simply understanding that fighters at the time didn't just figure out how to fight with delicate bronze weapons. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Archaeologists Had a Sword Fight for Science, Also Because Sword Fights Are Fun," 24 Apr. 2020 As the go-to designer for some of the top hotels in the world, Alexandra Champalimaud understands how to make people feel right at home, even when the space in question is temporary. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "An A-List Designer Creates the Ideal Kitchen Table," 21 Apr. 2020 This braid type is much easier to understand by seeing the process, and this is our favorite tutorial video to follow at home. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, "7 Different Braids To Learn How To Do At Home—Because You'll Never Get Bored With Your Hair Again," 3 Apr. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about understand

Time Traveler for understand

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for understand

Last Updated

7 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Understand.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/understand. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on understand

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!