Definition of understand in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌəndərˈstand/

verb (past and past participle understood)

1 [with object] Perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker): he didn’t understand a word I said he could usually make himself understood [with clause]: she understood what he was saying
More example sentences
  • We knew that he had never been to school and yet he could speak so fluently and be understood by first language speakers.
  • For the most part, speakers of different dialects can make themselves understood to speakers of other dialects.
  • To top it all off, half of the actresses sound like they're trying to speak English without understanding a word of it.
1.1Perceive the significance, explanation, or cause of (something): she didn’t really understand the situation [with clause]: he couldn’t understand why we burst out laughing [no object]: you don’t understand—she has left me
More example sentences
  • Everything makes sense when you're little, because what you don't understand you invent an explanation for.
  • I'm not sure I understood much about the situation in the region.
  • What needs to be understood about the situation is that both leaders are hostage to their own constituencies.
comprehend, grasp, take in, see, apprehend, follow, make sense of, fathom;
unravel, decipher, interpret
informal figure out, work out, make head(s) or tail(s) of, get one's head around, get the drift of, catch on to, get
British informal twig
1.2Be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of: Picasso understood color [with clause]: I understand how you feel
More example sentences
  • There's a sense that this guy is not quite understanding enough or sympathetic enough to the allies' point of view.
  • One would believe that pain would be socially understood and somewhat sympathized with.
  • In the case of Nora, I refused to start writing her as a character until I truly understood her.
appreciate, recognize, realize, acknowledge, know, be aware of, be conscious of
informal be wise to
formal be cognizant of
1.3Interpret or view (something) in a particular way: as the term is usually understood, legislation refers to regulations and directives
More example sentences
  • But Jack rejects this view and understands it for what it is.
  • A lot of people don't understand it and view it as something negative because of the extreme nature of it.
  • It normally understood all points of view equally, but something seemed to be changing with it.
2 [with clause] Infer something from information received (often used as a polite formula in conversation): I understand you’re at art school [with object]: as I understood it, she was flying back to New Zealand tomorrow
More example sentences
  • I understand that the information here may challenge some and get a few smirks.
  • I understand that people want information and so would I.
  • The allocation of questions is done to an agreed formula, and I understand that it is done very carefully.
2.1 [with object] Regard (a missing word, phrase, or idea) as present; supply mentally: “present company excepted” is always understood when sweeping generalizations are being made
2.2 [with object] Assume to be the case; take for granted: he liked to play the field—that was understood
More example sentences
  • It should be understood that the grant is limited to less than $1,000 annually.
  • It is understood the board viewed two different rough cuts of the film at the beginning of last month.
  • It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day.
believe, gather, take it, hear (tell), notice, see, learn;
conclude, infer, assume, surmise, fancy



Example sentences
  • He is known as a polymath and a polyglot, a great understander and interpreter of modern culture, but above all as a great student of language and how it functions.


Old English understandan (see under-, stand).

Words that rhyme with understand

and, band, bland, brand, expand, firsthand, gland, grand, hand, land, manned, misunderstand, offhand, rand, righthand, Samarkand, sand, stand, strand, thirdhand, underhand, undermanned, unplanned, untanned, withstand

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: un·der·stand

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