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understand definition

Overview

This page has 3 definitions of understand in English. Understand is a verb. Examples of how to use understand in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English

Alternative forms

Etymology

From Middle English understanden, from Old English understandan (to understand), from Proto-West Germanic *understandan (to stand between, understand), from Proto-Germanic *understandaną (to stand between, understand), equivalent to Old English under- (between, inter-) + standan (to stand) (Modern English under- +‎ stand). Cognate with Old Frisian understonda (to understand, experience, learn), Old High German understantan (to understand), Middle Danish understande (to understand). Compare also Saterland Frisian understunda, unnerstounde (to dare, survey, measure), Dutch onderstaan (to undertake, presume), German unterstehen (to be subordinate).

Pronunciation

Verb

understand (third-person singular simple present understands, present participle understanding, simple past and past participle understood)

  1. (transitive) To grasp a concept fully and thoroughly, especially (of words, statements, art, etc.) to be aware of the meaning of and (of people) to be aware of the intent of.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate [], New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
    • 1950, Hubbard, L. Ron, Dianetics[1], New Era Publications, published 1999, →ISBN, OCLC 59128428, page ix:
      In reading this book, be very certain you never go past a word you do not fully understand.
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, p. 20:
      ‘I came back here, had a wank and finished that book.’
      The Naked Lunch?
      ‘Yeah.’
      ‘What did you reckon?’
      Crap.’
      ‘You're just saying that because you didn't understand it,’ said Adrian.
      ‘I'm just saying that because I did understand it,’ said Tom. ‘Any road up, we'd better start making some toast.’
    I'm sorry. I don't understand.
    Please try to understand. It's not you, it's me.
  2. To believe, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
    I understand that you have a package for me?
    In the imperative mood, the word “you” is usually understood.
  3. (humorous, rare, obsolete outside circus, acrobatics) To stand underneath, to support.

Usage notes

  • In its sense of "imputing meaning", use is usually limited to the past participle understood.
  • The obsolete perfect form understanded is occasionally found, e.g. in the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church.

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Translations

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See also

Further reading

Anagrams