un·​der·​stand·​ing | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstan-diŋ How to pronounce understanding (audio) \

Definition of understanding

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a mental grasp : comprehension
2a : the power of comprehending especially : the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars
b : the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories
3a : a mutual agreement not formally entered into but in some degree binding on each side
b : friendly or harmonious relationship
c : an agreement of opinion or feeling : adjustment of differences



Definition of understanding (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : endowed with understanding : tolerant, sympathetic an understanding supervisor
2 archaic : knowing, intelligent

Other Words from understanding


understandingly \ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstan-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce understanding (audio) \ adverb

Examples of understanding in a Sentence

Noun He has a thorough understanding of the subject. She has a basic understanding of the process. I hope to get a clearer understanding of the issues involved. He seems to have little understanding of our situation. We have an understanding that whoever cooks doesn't have to do the dishes. She treats them with kindness and understanding. a relationship based on mutual understanding Adjective a kind and understanding teacher who often helps troubled students See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Real Housewives franchise has long had a wink-wink, nudge-nudge understanding with its audience, which Sadaf Ahsan acknowledges in this appreciation of a show that cultural scolds take all too seriously. Elizabeth Blackwell, Longreads, 23 Sep. 2022 Our scientific understanding of how smell works lags so far behind our grasp of hearing and (especially) vision, and smells cannot at this point be recorded or emailed or Instagrammed. Abigail Tucker, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Sep. 2022 McDaniel said among the things that make Edmonds a quality receiver out of the backfield are his ball skills, understanding of space, route running and timing with the quarterback. Chris Perkins, Sun Sentinel, 16 Sep. 2022 His deep understanding of both the linear and digital businesses, and the underlying forces driving their change, has guided key advancements in our advertising products and empowered us to deliver better outcomes for our clients. Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Sep. 2022 In a remote cave on Borneo, Indonesia, archaeologists have made a discovery that upends our understanding of the Stone Age: an amputee who lived 31,000 years ago. Katie Hunt, CNN, 10 Sep. 2022 Successful amputations require a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy and surgical hygiene, as well as considerable technical skill. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2022 Maine has one advantage, after a decade of enrollment challenges, said Richards: understanding, from experience, how serious the problem is. Jon Marcus, USA TODAY, 4 Sep. 2022 Religious schools help students make the transition into the adult world in ways that are not only consistent with their faith tradition’s moral understanding, but also compassionate and responsive to their students’ needs. Thomas B. Griffith, WSJ, 30 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Your goal here is to listen more, ask the right follow-up questions and be extremely understanding of their frustrations. Expert Panel, Forbes, 15 June 2022 Luckily, Sami was very understanding and gave me a lot of guidance. Aliannah Shalikar, oregonlive, 1 Aug. 2022 No one in my sphere wasn’t accepting and understanding. Marc Jacobs, Vogue, 13 June 2022 Doctors refuse her — one is vaguely understanding, if ineffectual, while another is openly contemptuous and ultimately duplicitous. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 11 May 2022 Also, to the new owners of the babies, who have all been very understanding. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, 22 July 2022 Leaders should adopt emotional intelligence practices to improve communication, operate from a place of empathy, become self-aware of their own emotions and express their emotions in ways that are effective yet understanding. Fanike-kiara Young, Forbes, 18 July 2022 My professors are very understanding and know how much Mapis means to me. Jill Griffin, Forbes, 20 June 2022 External attorneys and clients have been very understanding. Fortune, 30 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'understanding.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of understanding


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

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Last Updated

25 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Understanding.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/understanding. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for understanding


un·​der·​stand·​ing | \ ˌən-dər-ˈstan-diŋ How to pronounce understanding (audio) \

Kids Definition of understanding

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : ability to get the meaning of and judge He lacks an understanding of what's going on.
2 : an agreement of opinion or feeling We've come to an understanding about how to proceed.
3 : a willingness to show kind or favorable feelings toward others
4 : the particular way in which someone understands something It's my understanding that they're coming.



Kids Definition of understanding (Entry 2 of 2)

: having or showing kind or favorable feelings toward others : sympathetic


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