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]
  • (Ireland) IPA(key): /ˌɞndəɹˈstand/
  • Rhymes: -ænd
  • Hyphenation: un‧der‧stand


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

  1. (transitive) To grasp a concept fully in one's mind, especially (of words, statements, art, etc.) to be aware of the meaning of and (of people) to be aware of the intent of.
  2. To believe, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
  3. (humorous, rare, obsolete outside circus, acrobatics) To stand underneath, to support.

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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