[verb kuh n-stroo or, esp. British, kon-stroo; noun kon-stroo]

verb (used with object), con·strued, con·stru·ing.

verb (used without object), con·strued, con·stru·ing.

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 formscon·stru·er, nounun·con·strued, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for construe

Historical Examples of construe

  • 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.

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

    Floyd Grandon's Honor

    Amanda Minnie Douglas

British Dictionary definitions for construe


verb -strues, -struing or -strued (mainly tr)

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 intr) old-fashioned to translate literally, esp aloud as an academic exercise


old-fashioned something that is construed, such as a piece of translation
Derived Formsconstruable, adjectiveconstruability, nounconstruer, noun

Word Origin for construe

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

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