follow Dictionary.com

Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers

understanding

[uhn-der-stan-ding] /ˌʌn dərˈstæn dɪŋ/
noun
1.
mental process of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation:
My understanding of the word does not agree with yours.
2.
intellectual faculties; intelligence; mind:
a quick understanding.
3.
superior power of discernment; enlightened intelligence:
With her keen understanding she should have become a leader.
4.
knowledge of or familiarity with a particular thing; skill in dealing with or handling something:
an understanding of accounting practice.
5.
a state of cooperative or mutually tolerant relations between people:
To him, understanding and goodwill were the supreme virtues.
6.
a mutual agreement, especially of a private, unannounced, or tacit kind:
They had an understanding about who would do the dishes.
7.
an agreement regulating joint activity or settling differences, often informal or preliminary in character:
After hours of negotiation, no understanding on a new contract was reached.
8.
Philosophy.
  1. the power of abstract thought; logical power.
  2. Kantianism. the mental faculty resolving the sensory manifold into the transcendental unity of apperception.
adjective
9.
characterized by understanding; prompted by, based on, or demonstrating comprehension, intelligence, discernment, empathy, or the like:
an understanding attitude.
Origin
late Old English
1050
before 1050; Middle English understandynge, late Old English understandincge (noun). See understand, -ing1, -ing2
Related forms
understandingly, adverb
nonunderstanding, adjective, noun
nonunderstandingly, adverb
self-understanding, noun

understand

[uhn-der-stand] /ˌʌn dərˈstænd/
verb (used with object), understood, understanding.
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.
3.
to assign a meaning to; interpret:
He understood her suggestion as a complaint.
4.
to grasp the significance, implications, or importance of:
He does not understand responsibility.
5.
to regard as firmly communicated; take as agreed or settled:
I understand that you will repay this loan in 30 days.
6.
to learn or hear:
I understand that you are going out of town.
7.
to accept as true; believe:
I understand that you are trying to be truthful, but you are wrong.
8.
to construe in a particular way:
You are to understand the phrase literally.
9.
to supply mentally (something that is not expressed).
verb (used without object), understood, understanding.
10.
to perceive what is meant; grasp the information conveyed:
She told them about it in simple words, hoping they would understand.
11.
to accept tolerantly or sympathetically:
If you can't do it, I'll understand.
12.
to have knowledge or background, as on a particular subject:
He understands about boats.
13.
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
before 900; Middle English understanden, understonden, Old English understondan; cognate with Dutch onderstaan. See under-, stand
Related forms
preunderstand, verb, preunderstood, preunderstanding.
Synonyms
1. See know1 .
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for understanding
  • And what stronger instance can be produced of the surprising ignorance and weakness of the understanding than the present.
  • They were no longer mere shows, distracting the spectator from the main theme of the drama, but helps to the understanding of it.
  • If they were at a perfect understanding in any part, no words would be necessary thereon.
  • Nothing in the picture indicates place or time, though, and neither really matters to understanding the image.
  • understanding the significance of the newly-described dinosaur requires a little background information.
  • Looking at a single region for a single year is not a scientific method for understanding global environmental change.
  • To do it properly required a total understanding of the art and culture that gave rise to particular modes of writing.
  • They validate, verify and provide contextual understanding of the art and artifacts that are the domain of curators.
  • And she says parents who report being sarcastic themselves have kids who are better at understanding sarcasm.
  • Also, my understanding is the steel drums were shaped from empty oil drums left by naval submarines after refueling.
British Dictionary definitions for understanding

understanding

/ˌʌndəˈstændɪŋ/
noun
1.
the ability to learn, judge, make decisions, etc; intelligence or sense
2.
personal opinion or interpretation of a subject: my understanding of your predicament
3.
a mutual agreement or compact, esp an informal or private one
4.
(mainly Brit) an unofficial engagement to be married
5.
(philosophy, archaic) the mind, esp the faculty of reason
6.
on the understanding that, with the condition that; providing
adjective
7.
sympathetic, tolerant, or wise towards people
8.
possessing judgment and intelligence
Derived Forms
understandingly, adverb

understand

/ˌʌndəˈstænd/
verb -stands, -standing, -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
3.
(transitive; may take a clause as object) to assume, infer, or believe: I understand you are thinking of marrying
4.
(transitive) to know how to translate or read: can you understand Spanish?
5.
(transitive; may take a clause as object; often passive) to accept as a condition or proviso: it is understood that children must be kept quiet
6.
(transitive) to be sympathetic to or compatible with: we understand each other
Derived Forms
understandable, adjective
understandably, adverb
Word Origin
Old English understandan; related to Old Frisian understonda, Middle High German understān step under; see under, stand
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for understanding
n.

Old English understandincge "comprehension," from understand (q.v.). Meaning "mutual agreement" is attested from 1803.

understand

v.

Old English understandan "comprehend, grasp the idea of," probably literally "stand in the midst of," from under + standan "to stand" (see stand). If this is the meaning, the under is not the usual word meaning "beneath," but from Old English under, from PIE *nter- "between, among" (cf. Sanskrit antar "among, between," Latin inter "between, among," Greek entera "intestines;" see inter-).

That is the suggestion in Barnhart, but other sources regard the "among, between, before, in the presence of" sense of Old English prefix and preposition under as other meanings of the same word. "Among" seems to be the sense in many Old English compounds that resemble understand, e.g. underniman "to receive," undersecan "to investigate," underginnan "to begin." It also seems to be the sense still in expressions such as under such circumstances.

Perhaps the ultimate sense is "be close to," cf. Greek epistamai "I know how, I know," literally "I stand upon." Similar formations are found in Old Frisian (understonda), Middle Danish (understande), while other Germanic languages use compounds meaning "stand before" (cf. German verstehen, represented in Old English by forstanden). For this concept, most Indo-European languages use figurative extensions of compounds that literally mean "put together," or "separate," or "take, grasp" (see comprehend). Old English oferstandan, Middle English overstonden, literally "over-stand" seem to have been used only in literal senses.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with understanding

understand

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for understanding

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for understanding

16
21
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with understanding