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

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


Alternative forms

  • understaund (obsolete)


From Middle English understanden, from Old English understandan (to understand), from Proto-West Germanic *understandan (to stand between, understand), from Proto-Germanic *understandaną (to stand between, understand), equivalent to Old English under- (between, inter-) + standan (to stand) (Modern English under- +‎ 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).


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


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

  1. (transitive) (of communication or means of communication: words, statements, signs, etc.) To know the meaning of; to parse or have parsed correctly; to comprehend.
    1. (transitive) (generally) To know the meaning of.
  2. (transitive) (of a skill, task, profession, etc.) To be thoroughly familiar with; to be able to undertake properly.
  3. (transitive, usually with clause as object) To comprehend a fact or principle; to regard or come to regard a belief as such.
  4. (transitive) (of people) To know the intent, motives or character of; (of events) to know the causes of or reasons for.
  5. (transitive) To believe, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
  6. (transitive, grammar) To regard as present when not.
  7. (humorous, rare, obsolete outside circus, acrobatics) To stand underneath, to support.
  8. (intransitive) To comprehend or grasp (some particular matter); to have comprehension (in general);

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.



  • (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


  • misunderstand

Derived terms


See also

  • explain
  • why

Further reading

  • “understand”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
  • “understand”, in The Century Dictionary [], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.


  • unstranded

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