American English

Definition of comprehend verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    [intransitive, transitive]Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they comprehend
    he / she / it comprehends
    past simple comprehended
    -ing form comprehending
    jump to other results
  1. 1(often used in negative sentences)
  2. 2(formal) to understand something fully He stood staring at the dead body, unable to comprehend. comprehend something The infinite distances of space are too great for the human mind to comprehend. comprehend how/why, etc… She could not comprehend how someone would risk people's lives in that way. comprehend that… He simply could not comprehend that she could be guilty. Thesaurusunderstandsee get follow grasp comprehendThese words all mean to know or realize something, for example why something happens, how something works, or what something means.understand to know or realize the meaning of words, a language, what someone says, etc.; to know or realize how or why something happens, how it works, or why it is important:I don't understand the instructions. Doctors are just beginning to understand the causes of the disease.see to understand what is happening, what someone is saying, how something works, or how important something is:Ah ha—I see how it works now. Oh yes, I see what you mean.get (informal) to understand a joke, what someone is trying to tell you, or a situation that they are trying to describe:She didn't get the joke. I don't get you.follow to understand an explanation, a story, or the meaning of something:Sorry—I don't quite follow what you're saying. The plot is almost impossible to follow.grasp to come to understand a fact, an idea, or how to do something:They failed to grasp the importance of his words.understand or grasp?You can use understand or grasp for the action of realizing the meaning or importance of something for the first time:It's a difficult concept for children to understand/grasp.Only understand can be used to talk about languages, words, or writing:I don't grasp French/the instructions.comprehend (often used in negative statements) (formal) to understand a fact, an idea, or a reason:The concept of infinity is almost impossible for us to comprehend.Patterns to understand/see/get/follow/grasp/comprehend what… to understand/see/get/grasp/comprehend why/how… to understand/see/grasp/comprehend that… to understand/see/get/grasp the point/idea (of something) to be easy/difficult/hard to understand/see/follow/grasp/comprehend to fully understand/see/grasp/comprehend something
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: comprehend