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[verb kuh n-stroo or, esp. British, kon-stroo; noun kon-stroo] /verb kənˈstru or, esp. British, ˈkɒn stru; noun ˈkɒn stru/
verb (used with object), construed, construing.
to give the meaning or intention of; explain; interpret.
to deduce by inference or interpretation; infer:
He construed her intentions from her gestures.
to translate, especially orally.
to analyze the syntax of; to rehearse the applicable grammatical rules of:
to construe a sentence.
to arrange or combine (words, phrases, etc.) syntactically.
verb (used without object), construed, construing.
to admit of grammatical analysis or interpretation.
the act of construing.
something that is construed.
Origin of construe
1325-75; Middle English construen < Latin construere to put together, build, equivalent to con- con- + struere to pile up, arrange, perhaps akin to sternere to spread, strew; see stratum
Related forms
construer, noun
unconstrued, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for construe
Historical Examples
  • But you must not, my dearest friend, construe common gratitude into love.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • And even if he had, we must not construe any trifling peculiarity into madness.

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • But however you construe the hierograph, the door must be demolished before you get out.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • There—I believe I can construe that passage as well as Porson.

    Letters of Edward FitzGerald Edward FitzGerald
  • She has been used to her father's abstraction, and does not construe it into any slight.

    Floyd Grandon's Honor

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • But in every case the early practice did not construe this to include the Territories.

    Problems of Expansion Whitelaw Reid
  • In so far as her mind could construe, she acknowledged benefits received.

    Sister Carrie Theodore Dreiser
  • Any attempt to construe the purposes of Deity must be liable to the same misapplication.

    Western Characters J. L. McConnel
  • The April sun seemed to stir in him a vague feeling that he could not construe.

  • If you consider them to be so, you may construe my words in that way.

British Dictionary definitions for construe


verb (mainly transitive) -strues, -struing, -strued
to interpret the meaning of (something): you can construe that in different ways
(may take a clause as object) to discover by inference; deduce
to analyse the grammatical structure of; parse (esp a Latin or Greek text as a preliminary to translation)
to combine (words) syntactically
(also intransitive) (old-fashioned) to translate literally, esp aloud as an academic exercise
(old-fashioned) something that is construed, such as a piece of translation
Derived Forms
construable, adjective
construability, noun
construer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin construere to pile up; see construct
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 construe

late 14c., from Late Latin construere "to relate grammatically," in classical Latin "to build up, pile together" (see construction); also see construct (v.), which is a later acquisition of the same word. Related: Construed; construing; construal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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