understanding

noun
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 : friendly or harmonious relationship
b : an agreement of opinion or feeling : adjustment of differences
c : a mutual agreement not formally entered into but in some degree binding on each side

understanding

adjective

Definition of understanding (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from understanding

Adjective

understandingly \ ˌən-​dər-​ˈstan-​diŋ-​lē How to pronounce understandingly (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

Now our new challenge is to further develop our understanding of synestias and their role in planet formation. Simon J. Lock, Scientific American, "When Earth and the Moon Were One," 2 July 2019 In both cases, cleaning up after someone who doesn’t have total control over bodily functions can actually deepen your understanding of the human condition. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, "Ask Amy: He pees on the floor. How do I, as a woman, fix this?," 30 June 2019 In both cases, cleaning up after someone who doesn’t have total control over bodily functions can actually deepen your understanding of the human condition. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Mom doesn't want to clean up after two humans," 30 June 2019 Our understanding of lucid dreams has advanced significantly in the last decade. Achilleas Pavlou, Quartz, "A lucid dream researcher’s tips for controlling your dreams," 29 June 2019 In both cases, cleaning up after someone who doesn’t have total control over bodily functions can actually deepen your understanding of the human condition. Amy Dickinson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ask Amy: Mom doesn’t want to clean up after two humans," 29 June 2019 Even among wildfire experts, understanding of health impacts from smoke was elusive until recently. Matthew Brown, latimes.com, "Wildfires fueled by climate change will mean shorter lives for many Americans," 25 June 2019 Even among wildfire experts, understanding of health impacts from smoke was elusive until recently. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, "Smoke from more intense Western US wildfires raises health risks," 25 June 2019 Even Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) was initially labeled a prequel until the word reboot caught on and our understanding of franchise continuity changed. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Hunger Games' and the Pitfalls of a Prequel," 22 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Lopez: Why is understanding contempt as our problem so important? Nr Interview, National Review, "A Political Renewal?," 11 June 2019 But also understanding fashion is a political choice. al.com, "Days of Future Past: Mobile exhibitions loop time," 4 June 2019 But actually understanding intersectionality requires going back to the work of the woman who coined the term: Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a law professor with dual appointments at Columbia and UCLA. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The 9 thinkers who made sense of 2018’s chaos," 27 Dec. 2018 Most importantly a massive thanks to my 3 gorgeous girls for being so understanding and supportive, without their support this could never have happened! Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Queen's Cousin Makes History with First Same-Sex Royal Wedding," 24 Sep. 2018 Brooklyn Decker is thankful for her understanding husband. Alexia Fernandez, PEOPLE.com, "Brooklyn Decker Hilariously Reveals How Her Husband Saved Her From a Mommy Meltdown with Tequila," 27 Jan. 2018 Kane Brown praises his very understanding girlfriend, while Aldean sings Miranda Lambert's praises. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Go Backstage at CMA Fest 2018 With Kane Brown, Jason Aldean, Kelsea Ballerini & More," 8 June 2018 Their stories are vital to fully understanding World War II, as well as being fascinating. Janet Beard, Time, "The Women's History Hidden in America's Nuclear Past," 8 Mar. 2018 The hardest thing for me, working on this project, was understanding dairy production. Noor Brara, Vogue, "Natalie Portman's Eating Animals Documentary Sheds Light on a Problem That Is No Longer Avoidable," 15 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of understanding

Noun

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

Adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about understanding

Statistics for understanding

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for understanding

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for understanding

understanding

noun

English Language Learners Definition of understanding

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the knowledge and ability to judge a particular situation or subject
: an informal agreement
: a willingness to understand people's behavior and forgive them

understanding

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of understanding (Entry 2 of 2)

: showing sympathy and kindness : tolerant or sympathetic

understanding

noun
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.

understanding

adjective

Kids Definition of understanding (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on understanding

What made you want to look up understanding? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

food or victuals

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!