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[kom-pri-hend] /ˌkɒm prɪˈhɛnd/
verb (used with object)
to understand the nature or meaning of; grasp with the mind; perceive:
He did not comprehend the significance of the ambassador's remark.
to take in or embrace; include; comprise:
The course will comprehend all facets of Japanese culture.
Origin of comprehend
1350-1400; Middle English comprehenden < Latin comprehendere, equivalent to com- com- + prehendere to grasp; see prehensile
Related forms
comprehender, noun
comprehendingly, adverb
noncomprehending, adjective
noncomprehendingly, adverb
precomprehend, verb (used with object)
self-comprehending, adjective
uncomprehended, adjective
uncomprehending, adjective
uncomprehendingly, adverb
well-comprehended, adjective
Can be confused
apprehend, comprehend.
1. See know1 . 2. See include. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for comprehend
  • In order to comprehend how this can happen, it is necessary to understand some basic immunology.
  • We need to know who he was, to understand his life and work, in order to comprehend our own revolutionary culture.
  • Students often don't understand what they have signed, parents don't comprehend, and that is what is intended.
  • Also, traditional scientists want to understand and comprehend what they are studying, using their own human brains.
  • Helping people understand and relate to the world around them, and comprehend their impact on the environment.
  • They can't listen, can't comprehend their own insanity.
  • Floyd was too lazy to pitch and he didn't care who was captain, because he didn't fully comprehend what that meant.
  • And then there was his inability to comprehend the despair and self-negation he inflicted on others.
  • At first, the group fails to comprehend where they are or why they're there.
  • Good phonic instruction leads to rapid, fluent decoding, without which students cannot comprehend text.
British Dictionary definitions for comprehend


to perceive or understand
(transitive) to comprise or embrace; include
Word Origin
C14: from Latin comprehendere, from prehendere to seize
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
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Word Origin and History for comprehend

mid-14c., "to understand," from Latin comprehendere "to take together, to unite; include; seize" (of catching fire or the arrest of criminals); also "to comprehend, perceive" (to seize or take in the mind), from com- "completely" (see com-) + prehendere "to catch hold of, seize" (see prehensile). Related: Comprehended; comprehending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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