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

Yet this is the essential background for understanding the images and objects in the exhibition. Sara Lipton, The New York Review of Books, "A Terribly Durable Myth," 17 June 2019 Williams, a former second baseman in the Twins farm system, ensures their athletes understand the mental part of the game. J.l. Kirven, Detroit Free Press, "Tigers' Niko Goodrum and his father create a winning combination," 16 June 2019 His exceptional marketing skills, market knowledge and understanding the numbers have not only benefited his clients, but have led to his being a Top Producer. Rebecca Maitland, Houston Chronicle, "Realtor of the Week: Eric Pham has passion for the industry," 16 June 2019 Ultimately that helps team members understand tone in messages, instead of imagining what’s being left unsaid. Jenna Schnuer, Fortune, "Turn Remote Worker Pains Into Possibilities With a Pairing of Tech and Talk," 15 June 2019 If anything, the gilets jaunes protests showed that public policy cannot be decreed from on high, and Mr Macron claims that he has heard and understood this message. The Economist, "France’s president kicks off a second round of reforms," 15 June 2019 Toliver has become more dedicated to film study and understanding the tendencies of opposing wide receivers. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "The Bears feel good about their roster depth. But competition looms at swing tackle and cornerback.," 15 June 2019 The discovery, first reported by the Siberian Times, is poised to help researchers better understand how steppe wolves compared with their contemporary counterparts, as well as why the species eventually died out. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "A Perfectly Preserved 32,000-Year-Old Wolf Head Was Found in Siberian Permafrost," 15 June 2019 Bowlen understood that in the U.S., the NFL was an unrivaled television product. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Pat Bowlen, the Denver Broncos Owner Who Changed the NFL," 15 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.

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

Statistics for understand

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for understand

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

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

having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!