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EtymologyEdit

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.

PronunciationEdit

VerbEdit

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.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, “Prologue: Who is Edmund Gray?”, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, [], OCLC 16832619:
      Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
    • 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.
    I'm sorry. I don't understand.
    Please try to understand. It's not you, it's me.
  2. To believe or impute, to think one grasps sufficiently despite potentially incomplete knowledge.
    I understand that you have a package for me?
    In the imperative mood, the word “you” is usually understood.
  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 notesEdit

  • 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.

SynonymsEdit

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TranslationsEdit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit

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AnagramsEdit