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

As an op-ed writer, the governor clearly understands the service newspapers provide to the public and their importance to the democratic process. Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards, The Mercury News, "Editorial: Newsom’s backing of AB 5 threatens newspapers’ future," 6 Sep. 2019 But understanding the Muslim vote will be necessary for any serious Democratic contender to succeed. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "What do Muslim Voters Want?: raceAhead," 6 Sep. 2019 What hadn’t been approached so much is really understanding the molecular basis for that. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "What Chili Peppers Can Teach Us about Pain," 5 Sep. 2019 Ultimately this is just one more tool to help our partners sell more ticket and better understand their fans. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "Spectra Signs Distribution Deal With Re-Branded Ticket Galaxy as Reseller Pivots Away From Fraud Settlement," 4 Sep. 2019 This is really Civics 101, and I’m not at all sure how many pundits on the left fully understand it. Jay Cost, National Review, "Chris Hayes and Progressives’ Lack of Respect for the Constitution," 3 Sep. 2019 Students especially omit examples from notes even though examples can be crucial to understanding lesson ideas. Kenneth A. Kiewra, The Conversation, "7 tips on how to take better notes," 3 Sep. 2019 Where was my diagnosis that would help me understand what had happened to me that night? Alyson Pomerantz, Longreads, "Anaphylaxis of the Mind," 3 Sep. 2019 Knowing the mass of a neutrino will help Indu understand the rate at which the universe is expanding. Nandita Jayaraj, Quartz India, "Meet Indumathi, the Indian scientist who wants to capture one of the universe’s smallest particles," 27 Aug. 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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Statistics for understand

Last Updated

11 Sep 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 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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