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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for uncomprehending
Historical Examples
  • The creature looked about him in a dazed, uncomprehending manner.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Note the shallow and uncomprehending notice of this picture by Fuseli.

  • He watched for the effect: Massy seemed dazed, uncomprehending.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • Olive looked at him uncomprehending, but he seemed to shrink from her observation.

    Olive Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)
  • With dull, uncomprehending gaze James Moore stared as bidden.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • Culpepper regarded him with wide, blue, and uncomprehending eyes.

    The Fifth Queen Crowned

    Ford Madox Ford
  • Lena still stared at him dumbly, vague with uncomprehending fear.

    Jewel Weed

    Alice Ames Winter
  • All these years he had imagined her the amazed devotee, uncomprehending but admiring.

    Tea-Table Talk Jerome K. Jerome
  • We stood at gaze, uncomprehending, too astonished for speech.

    The Dew of Their Youth S. R. Crockett
  • He had watched him with an amused, uncomprehending interest.

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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