understand

understand

synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of understand in English

English Online Dictionary. What means understand‎? What does understand mean?

English

Alternative forms

  • understaund (obsolete)

Etymology

From Middle English understanden, from Old English understandan (to understand), from Proto-Germanic *under (between) + *standaną (to stand), equivalent to Old English under- (between, inter-) + standan (to stand). Cognate with Old Frisian understonda (to understand, experience, learn), Old High German understantan (to understand), Middle Danish understande (to understand). Compare also Saterland Frisian understunda, unnerstounde (to dare, survey, measure), Dutch onderstaan (to undertake, presume), German unterstehen (to be subordinate). More at inter-, stand.

Pronunciation

  • (Received Pronunciation) enPR: ŭn(′)dər-stănd', IPA(key): /(ˌ)ʌndəˈstænd/,
  • (General American) enPR: ŭn′dər-stănd', IPA(key): /ˌʌndɚˈstænd/, [ˌʌɾ̃ɚˈstænd], [ˌʌɾ̃ɚˈsteə̯nd]
  • (Ireland) IPA(key): /ˌɞndəɹˈstand/
  • Rhymes: -ænd
  • Hyphenation: un‧der‧stand

Verb

understand (third-person singular simple present understands, present participle understanding, simple past and past participle understood)

  1. (transitive) To grasp a concept fully and thoroughly, especially (of words, statements, art, &c.) to be aware of the meaning of and (of people) to be aware of the intent of.
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, p. 20:
      ‘I came back here, had a wank and finished that book.’
      The Naked Lunch?
      ‘Yeah.’
      ‘What did you reckon?’
      ‘Crap.’
      ‘You're just saying that because you didn't understand it,’ said Adrian.
      ‘I'm just saying that because I did understand it,’ said Tom. ‘Any road up, we'd better start making some toast.’
    • 1998, Rush Hour:
      Carter: Please tell me you speak English. I'm Detective Carter. Do you speak-a any English? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH? I can't believe this shit. First, I get a bullshit assignment, now Mr. Rice-a-Roni doesn't even speak American. C'mon, man, my ride over here. Put your bag in the back.
  2. To believe or impute, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
  3. (humorous, rare, obsolete outside circus, acrobatics) To stand underneath, to support.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)

Usage notes

  • In its sense of "imputing meaning", use is usually limited to the past participle understood.
  • The obsolete perfect form understanded is occasionally found, e.g. in the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church.

Synonyms

  • (to fully grasp a concept): apprehend, comprehend, grasp, know, perceive, pick up what someone is putting down, realise, grok
  • (to believe one grasps a concept): believe

Antonyms

  • misunderstand

Derived terms

Translations

See also

  • explain
  • why

Further reading

  • understand in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  • understand in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.

Anagrams

  • unstranded

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.