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[kom-pri-hend] /ˌkɒm prɪˈhɛnd/
verb (used with object)
to understand the nature or meaning of; grasp with the mind; perceive:
He did not comprehend the significance of the ambassador's remark.
to take in or embrace; include; comprise:
The course will comprehend all facets of Japanese culture.
Origin of comprehend
1350-1400; Middle English comprehenden < Latin comprehendere, equivalent to com- com- + prehendere to grasp; see prehensile
Related forms
comprehender, noun
comprehendingly, adverb
noncomprehending, adjective
noncomprehendingly, adverb
precomprehend, verb (used with object)
self-comprehending, adjective
uncomprehended, adjective
uncomprehending, adjective
uncomprehendingly, adverb
well-comprehended, adjective
Can be confused
apprehend, comprehend.
1. See know1 . 2. See include. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for comprehending
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Give Mrs. Bowlder my regards," said the journalist, comprehending the symbolism.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • "No, it mightn't," her mother replied, comprehending easily.

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • Surprised, not yet comprehending, he looked at the object which she held toward him.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • Did you ever set yourself to comprehending why Marie Stuart married Bothwell?

    The Market-Place Harold Frederic
  • "My name's Jenny West," she said, comprehending the request.

    The Crooked House

    Brandon Fleming
  • A very large percentage, comprehending 2,309 do not attend church at all.

    The Arena Various
  • She could not speak for a little, and he stood beside her in a comprehending silence.

    Under the Country Sky Grace S. Richmond
  • It seemed to her she had never seen eyes so clear, so blue, so comprehending.

    Under the Country Sky Grace S. Richmond
  • comprehending what was wanted he struggled to his feet and reached for them.

British Dictionary definitions for comprehending


to perceive or understand
(transitive) to comprise or embrace; include
Word Origin
C14: from Latin comprehendere, from prehendere to seize
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for comprehending



mid-14c., "to understand," from Latin comprehendere "to take together, to unite; include; seize" (of catching fire or the arrest of criminals); also "to comprehend, perceive" (to seize or take in the mind), from com- "completely" (see com-) + prehendere "to catch hold of, seize" (see prehensile). Related: Comprehended; comprehending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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