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

Especially in a new space, and one with a black-market past, consumers need a standard measure of safety and quality—an easy-to-understand seal of approval. Shafin Diamond Tejani, Quartz, "What Mark Twain can teach us about the weed industry," 29 June 2019 However, the possession works both ways, with Will being able to understand what makes the Mind Flayer tick. Lauren Huff, EW.com, "Everything you need to remember about Stranger Things before watching season 3," 28 June 2019 The researcher also wanted to understand why the extinct relatives of crocodiles diversified so radically after one mass extinction but not the one that killed the dinosaurs - and whether dietary ecology could have played a role. Fox News, "Ancient crocodiles had vegetarian cousins that roamed the planet 200 million years ago, research shows," 27 June 2019 My previous National Geographic–funded work has sought to interweave indigenous knowledge with ecological research to better understand long-term changes to marine fishes of cultural, ecological, and economic concern. Lauren Eckert, National Geographic, "See Vancouver like a Nat Geo Explorer," 27 June 2019 Visiting researchers are expected to collect information and perform experiments to understand how the sanctuary can withstand those changes. USA TODAY, "Troll trail, coal train derailment, geyser record: News from around our 50 states," 27 June 2019 Without prior knowledge, the context, inside jokes, vague references, characters and brief snippets of scenes would be impossible to fully understand. Pomerado News, "REVIEW: ‘Puffs’ is magical fun for Harry Potter fans," 26 June 2019 Discussion Our testing was designed to understand the performance of the algorithm in the field. Jeff Kao And Jack Gillum, ProPublica, "Methodology: How We Tested an Aggression Detection Algorithm," 25 June 2019 Linda’s sisters never quite understood why Linda fell for, and almost instantly married, Thomas. USA Today, "Alaska is considered the deadliest state for women. A staggering 59% of women there have experienced violence.," 25 June 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

3 Jul 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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Comments on understand

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