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

Definition of understand 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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: Verb

Humankind could at last understand the entirety of the universe’s behavior. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 2018 While The Voice is a singing competition that focuses on talent, true fans of the show understand why the coaches are equally as important as the contestants. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "‘The Voice’ Coach Adam Levine Has a Weird Habit That Is Infuriating Fans," 10 Oct. 2018 This instrument will measure magnetic and electric fields in the sun's atmosphere to help scientists better understand why the corona is so much hotter than the photosphere. Elizabeth Howell, Space.com, "Here Comes the Sun! Parker Solar Probe Instruments See 'First Light'," 25 Sep. 2018 The words were actually written by Monroe and Presley, and all are delivered with a wink, which most fans seemed to understand. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Miranda Lambert Addresses Her Divorce From Blake Shelton in Sassy New Song," 30 Oct. 2018 Jacquet understands that her intended career path is a formidable challenge, but talking to experienced women in the field and researching online haves sustained her. Abby Haglage, refinery29.com, "4 Black Girls With Big Dreams & The 4 Women Living Them," 13 July 2018 The president should clearly understand that neither the Russians nor dictators like Kim Jong-un are going to be charmed by anybody. Chuck Todd, NBC News, "Supreme Court battle overshadows bad news for Trump," 9 July 2018 Nissan understands and regrets the concern and inconvenience caused to stakeholders as a result of its [inspection process] issues last year. David Meyer, Fortune, "Nissan Shares Tank as It Admits That Some of Its Factories Faked Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Test Data," 9 July 2018 Researchers have only recently begun to understand the effects of extreme heat on cities. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Our cities are getting hotter—and it’s killing people," 6 July 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

4 Dec 2018

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



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


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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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).


to enclose within walls

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