[ uhn-der-stand ]
See synonyms for: understandunderstandingunderstood on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),un·der·stood, un·der·stand·ing.
  1. to perceive the meaning of; grasp the idea of; comprehend: to understand Spanish; I didn't understand your question.

  2. to be thoroughly familiar with; apprehend clearly the character, nature, or subtleties of: to understand a trade.

  1. to assign a meaning to; interpret: He understood her suggestion as a complaint.

  2. to grasp the significance, implications, or importance of: He does not understand responsibility.

  3. to regard as firmly communicated; take as agreed or settled: I understand that you will repay this loan in 30 days.

  4. to learn or hear: I understand that you are going out of town.

  5. to accept as true; believe: I understand that you are trying to be truthful, but you are wrong.

  6. to construe in a particular way: You are to understand the phrase literally.

  7. to supply mentally (something that is not expressed).

verb (used without object),un·der·stood, un·der·stand·ing.
  1. to perceive what is meant; grasp the information conveyed: She told them about it in simple words, hoping they would understand.

  2. to accept tolerantly or sympathetically: If you can't do it, I'll understand.

  1. to have knowledge or background, as on a particular subject: He understands about boats.

  2. to have a systematic interpretation or rationale, as in a field or area of knowledge: He can repeat every rule in the book, but he just doesn't understand.

Origin of understand

First recorded before 900; Middle English understanden, understonden, Old English understondan; cognate with Dutch onderstaan. See under-, stand

Other words from understand

  • pre·un·der·stand, verb, pre·un·der·stood, pre·un·der·stand·ing.

Words Nearby understand

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use understand in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for understand


/ (ˌʌndəˈstænd) /

verb-stands, -standing or -stood
  1. (may take a clause as object) to know and comprehend the nature or meaning of: I understand you; I understand what you mean

  2. (may take a clause as object) to realize or grasp (something): he understands your position

  1. (tr; may take a clause as object) to assume, infer, or believe: I understand you are thinking of marrying

  2. (tr) to know how to translate or read: can you understand Spanish?

  3. (tr; may take a clause as object; often passive) to accept as a condition or proviso: it is understood that children must be kept quiet

  4. (tr) to be sympathetic to or compatible with: we understand each other

Origin of understand

Old English understandan; related to Old Frisian understonda, Middle High German understān step under; see under, stand

Derived forms of understand

  • understandable, adjective
  • understandably, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with understand


see give to understand.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.