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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for uncomprehending
Historical Examples
  • Phœbe tried to laugh, but looked distressed, uncomprehending, and far from wishing to comprehend.

    Hopes and Fears Charlotte M. Yonge
  • Culpepper regarded him with wide, blue, and uncomprehending eyes.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned Ford Madox Ford
  • She cried in uncomprehending shock as he swung her before him into the open doorway.

    World of the Drone Robert Abernathy
  • Lena still stared at him dumbly, vague with uncomprehending fear.

    Jewel Weed Alice Ames Winter
  • O'Toole turned a stolid, uncomprehending face upon the courier.

    Clementina A.E.W. Mason
  • All these years he had imagined her the amazed devotee, uncomprehending but admiring.

    Tea-Table Talk Jerome K. Jerome
  • The citizens, crowding to the walls of Viana, watched that last reckless ride of his with amazed, uncomprehending eyes.

    The Life of Cesare Borgia Raphael Sabatini
  • The creature looked about him in a dazed, uncomprehending manner.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • He noticed the distress in her face with uncomprehending sympathy.

    Prescott of Saskatchewan Harold Bindloss
  • Note the shallow and uncomprehending notice of this picture by Fuseli.

British Dictionary definitions for uncomprehending


not able to understand; puzzled: a long, uncomprehending look


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 uncomprehending

1795, from un- (1) "not" + present participle of comprehend. Related: Uncomprehendingly.



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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