Language: Old English
Origin: understandan, from under + standan 'to stand'


un‧der‧stand S1 W1 past tense and past participle understood [not in progressive]


[intransitive and transitive] to know the meaning of what someone is telling you, or the language that they speak [↪ misunderstood]:
She doesn't understand English.
I'm sorry, I don't understand. Can you explain that again?
The woman had a strong accent, and I couldn't understand what she was saying.
make yourself understood (=make what you say clear to other people, especially when speaking a foreign language)
I'm not very good at German, but I can make myself understood.


[intransitive and transitive] to know or realize how a fact, process, situation etc works, especially through learning or experience:
I don't really understand the political situation in Northern Ireland.
understand how/why/where etc
You don't need to understand how computers work to be able to use them.
How the drug works isn't fully understood.
understand (that)
I understand that this treatment may not work.


[intransitive and transitive] to realize how someone feels and why they behave the way they do, and to be sympathetic:
My parents just don't understand me.
Just tell him how you feel - I'm sure he'll understand.
understand how/what etc
I understand how you feel, but I think you're overreacting.
(can) understand somebody doing something
I can understand her wanting to live alone and be independent.


[transitive] to believe or think that something is true because you have heard it or read it
understand (that)
'I understand that he was 62 when he died,' McLeish said.
it is understood (that)
It is understood that the Queen approves of her nephew's romance.
be understood to be (doing) something
Dillons is understood to be reorganising the company's management structure.

give somebody to understand (that)

formal to make someone believe that something is true, going to happen etc, without telling them this directly:
I was given to understand that the property was in good condition.

be understood (that)

formal if something is understood, everyone knows it, or has agreed to it, and there is no need to discuss it:
From childhood it was understood that your parents would choose your husband.

understand something to be/mean something

to accept something as having a particular meaning:
In this document, 'children' is understood to mean people under 14.

do you understand?

spoken used when you are telling someone what they should or should not do, especially when you are angry with them:
Never speak to me like that again! Do you understand?

Dictionary results for "understand"
Dictionary pictures of the day
Do you know what each of these is called?
What is the word for picture 1? What is the word for picture 2? What is the word for picture 3? What is the word for picture 4?
Click on any of the pictures above to find out what it is called.