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

Holland’s team is trying to understand what’s driving the staggering ice melt. Denise Chow, NBC News, "My night stranded on the edge of Greenland's fast-melting Helheim Glacier," 17 Sep. 2019 Just trying to understand what people like, and having fun with it. Donny Sirisavath, Bon Appétit, "Everything I Know About Running Restaurants, I Learned From My Mom," 17 Sep. 2019 In 2015, Krishnamurthy, Hud and their collaborators showed that trying to understand the origins of polypeptide synthesis by focusing only on amino acids, the building blocks of peptides, might be the wrong tack. Quanta Magazine, "Origin-of-Life Study Points to Chemical Chimeras, Not RNA," 16 Sep. 2019 Each participant must have the ability to read and understand English and have basic computer skills to effectively complete the assessment. Burbank Leader, "Burbank Area Calendar: Square-dancing class for singles and couples offered at senior center," 16 Sep. 2019 Globe reporters spent weeks last spring at the two schools — both public — to try to understand how Newton South and Brighton High could produce such staggeringly different results. BostonGlobe.com, "ada Pierre is tiny, her ambition drawn taut as a bowstring. The 16-year-old daughter of Haitian immigrants wears her hair in a small bun atop her head, her emerging political consciousness finding its voice in the bevy of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo stickers she’s pasted to her MacBook.," 15 Sep. 2019 Western Kentucky proceeded to convert on fourth-and-short, but afterwards the referees called the play back to be reviewed. Satterfield and his staff didn’t understand what was being reviewed. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, "Malik Cunningham impresses in his first start for Louisville, Blanton Creque makes history," 14 Sep. 2019 Lady Carnarvon understands that the battle to keep the house going is not unlike the struggle faced by the fictional Granthams. Whitney Robinson, Town & Country, "15 Stunning Photos of Highclere Castle, the Real Downton Abbey," 12 Sep. 2019 It’s taken me that long because the gatekeepers and decision-makers of the beauty world did not understand the magnitude, importance, beauty, breath, and consumer dollars of the curl community. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Tracee Ellis Ross' New Haircare Line Is What the Beauty Industry Has Been Missing," 9 Sep. 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

9 Oct 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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