Definition of understanding in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˌəndərˈstandiNG/


1The ability to understand something; comprehension: foreign visitors with little understanding of English
More example sentences
  • It may not be until June or July of next year until a more comprehensive understanding of the problem is reached.
  • He constantly strives to increase his abilities and his understanding of the obstacles around him.
  • Our understanding of and ability to control quantum systems have never been so good.
comprehension, apprehension, grasp, mastery, appreciation, assimilation, absorption;
knowledge, awareness, insight, skill, expertise, proficiency
informal know-how
formal cognizance
1.1The power of abstract thought; intellect: a child of sufficient intelligence and understanding
More example sentences
  • I am aware, and hope I have also made it clear to the reader, that merely intellectual understanding is not sufficient.
  • Wisdom and understanding have always been powerful and effective weapons against a poor belief/approach.
  • The essay is an examination of the nature of the human mind and its powers of understanding.
1.2An individual’s perception or judgment of a situation: my understanding was that he would try to find a new supplier
More example sentences
  • His understanding of the situation was that a fracas had spilled over from the field of play to where substitutes were sitting and they got involved.
  • This has been an unfortunately brief, but crucial attempt at increasing our understanding of the situation we find ourselves in.
  • My understanding of the situation regarding the region was also influenced by his work.
belief, perception, view, conviction, feeling, opinion, intuition, impression, assumption, supposition, inference, interpretation
1.3Sympathetic awareness or tolerance: a problem that needs to be handled with understanding
More example sentences
  • They have shown no compassion, no understanding, no tolerance, and especially, no patience.
  • Tolerance and understanding develops between Ruth and other members of the household.
  • Every story he tells in some way teaches tolerance and understanding.
compassion, sympathy, pity, feeling, concern, consideration, kindness, sensitivity, decency, humanity, charity, goodwill, mercy, tolerance
1.4An informal or unspoken agreement or arrangement: he and I have an understanding he had only been allowed to come on the understanding that he would be on his best behavior
More example sentences
  • How do we establish mutual agreements or common understandings while respecting diversity?
  • They just do not come close to telling the whole story, since informal understandings and norms are crucial in determining outcomes.
  • All was talk except for what mattered most, which were unspoken understandings.
agreement, arrangement, deal, bargain, settlement, pledge, pact, compact, contract, covenant, bond, meeting of minds


1Sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving: people expect their doctor to be understanding
More example sentences
  • When your partner is a comic book artist you have to be very understanding and tolerant of their life style, which seems to mean having little life besides comics.
  • I became a totally different person, more knowledgeable, more tolerant, more understanding.
  • But being the tolerant, understanding guy that I am, I wanted to know more.
compassionate, sympathetic, sensitive, considerate, tender, kind, thoughtful, tolerant, patient, forbearing, lenient, merciful, forgiving, humane;
approachable, supportive, perceptive
2 archaic Having insight or good judgment.
Example sentences
  • If you lack understanding and meditative insight, this test could become an obstacle.



Pronunciation: /ˌəndərˈstandiNGlē/
Example sentences
  • ‘It's okay’, Vince assured him understandingly.
  • ‘Ah, I see,’ he suddenly nodded understandingly.
  • ‘You've been through a lot,’ he said understandingly.

Words that rhyme with understanding

freestanding, hardstanding, landing, misunderstanding, notwithstanding, outstanding, standing, stranding, upstanding

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: un·der·stand·ing

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.