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 formscom·pre·hend·er, nouncom·pre·hend·ing·ly, adverbnon·com·pre·hend·ing, adjectivenon·com·pre·hend·ing·ly, adverbpre·com·pre·hend, verb (used with object)self-com·pre·hend·ing, adjectiveun·com·pre·hend·ed, adjectiveun·com·pre·hend·ing, adjectiveun·com·pre·hend·ing·ly, adverbwell-com·pre·hend·ed, adjective
Can be confusedapprehend comprehend

Synonyms for comprehend

1. See know1. 2. See include. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for comprehending

Contemporary Examples of comprehending

  • I'm okay with people not comprehending or appreciating every single thing we did.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Palin's Enforcer Bails Out

    Shushannah Walshe

    February 26, 2010

Historical Examples of comprehending

  • "Give Mrs. Bowlder my regards," said the journalist, comprehending the symbolism.

  • "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

British Dictionary definitions for comprehending



to perceive or understand
(tr) to comprise or embrace; include

Word Origin for comprehend

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

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