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[uhn-der-stan-ding] /ˌʌn dərˈstæn dɪŋ/
mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation:
My understanding of the word does not agree with yours.
intellectual faculties; intelligence; mind:
a quick understanding.
superior power of discernment; enlightened intelligence:
With her keen understanding she should have become a leader.
knowledge of or familiarity with a particular thing; skill in dealing with or handling something:
an understanding of accounting practice.
a state of cooperative or mutually tolerant relations between people:
To him, understanding and goodwill were the supreme virtues.
a mutual agreement, especially of a private, unannounced, or tacit kind:
They had an understanding about who would do the dishes.
an agreement regulating joint activity or settling differences, often informal or preliminary in character:
After hours of negotiation, no understanding on a new contract was reached.
  1. the power of abstract thought; logical power.
  2. Kantianism. the mental faculty resolving the sensory manifold into the transcendental unity of apperception.
characterized by understanding; prompted by, based on, or demonstrating comprehension, intelligence, discernment, empathy, or the like:
an understanding attitude.
Origin of understanding
late Old English
before 1050; Middle English understandynge, late Old English understandincge (noun). See understand, -ing1, -ing2
Related forms
understandingly, adverb
nonunderstanding, adjective, noun
nonunderstandingly, adverb
self-understanding, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for understandingly
Historical Examples
  • He took hold briskly and understandingly, and, as the saying is, went to the head fast.

  • Peppajee grinned briefly and understandingly, and nodded his head.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • A sudden impulse seized her to take him in her arms, but the children were there, looking on understandingly.

    'Our guy' Mrs. E. E. Boyd
  • Looking at him understandingly she saw that there had been lines of pain about the firm mouth.

    Olive in Italy Moray Dalton
  • It seemed part of the whole hardness of life that she who would care the most would be the one to see it most understandingly.

    Lifted Masks Susan Glaspell
  • Her child's eye turned to her sorrowfully and understandingly.

    The Carpenter's Daughter Anna Bartlett Warner
  • Constance mentioned with apparent irrelevance, "Winifred is so giddy," and Pauline smiled at me understandingly.

  • Linda looked at Berk who smiled back at her understandingly.

    Talbot's Angles Amy E. Blanchard
  • “All right, Lora,” I managed to say, and Kee understandingly refrained from any further words on the subject.

    The Deep Lake Mystery Carolyn Wells
  • "It's hell sayin' good-by to girls," said Powers, understandingly.

    Three Soldiers John Dos Passos
British Dictionary definitions for understandingly


the ability to learn, judge, make decisions, etc; intelligence or sense
personal opinion or interpretation of a subject: my understanding of your predicament
a mutual agreement or compact, esp an informal or private one
(mainly Brit) an unofficial engagement to be married
(philosophy, archaic) the mind, esp the faculty of reason
on the understanding that, with the condition that; providing
sympathetic, tolerant, or wise towards people
possessing judgment and intelligence
Derived Forms
understandingly, adverb
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 understandingly



Old English understandincge "comprehension," from understand (q.v.). Meaning "mutual agreement" is attested from 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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