Meaning of “understanding” in the English Dictionary

"understanding" in British English

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understandingnoun

uk /ˌʌn.dəˈstæn.dɪŋ/ us /ˌʌn.dɚˈstæn.dɪŋ/

understanding noun (KNOWLEDGE)

B2 [ U ] knowledge about a subject, situation, etc. or about how something works:

She doesn't have any understanding of politics/human nature/what it takes to be a good manager.
My understanding of the agreement (= what I think it means) is that they will pay $50,000 over two years.

More examples

  • It certainly helped to deepen my understanding of the situation.
  • His answer demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the question.
  • Some understanding of grammar is fundamental to learning a language.
  • You need to demonstrate to the examiners that you have more than a literal understanding of the text.
  • Academics sitting in ivory towers have no understanding of what is important for ordinary people.

understanding noun (AGREEMENT)

C1 [ C ] an informal agreement between people:

It took several hours of discussion before they could come to/reach an understanding.
on the understanding (that)

If you do something on the understanding that something else can or will happen, you do it because someone else has promised that it can or will:

We bought the sofa on the understanding that we could return it if it didn't fit in the room.

understandingadjective

uk /ˌʌn.dəˈstæn.dɪŋ/ us /ˌʌn.dɚˈstæn.dɪŋ/ approving

B2 An understanding person who has the ability to know how other people are feeling, and can forgive them if they do something wrong:

He had expected her to be horrified, but she was actually very understanding.

More examples

  • She's very understanding - you feel you can really open your heart to her.
  • Look, it's not Tom's fault - you could be a little more understanding!
  • I hadn't expected her to be so understanding.
  • I try very hard to be understanding.
  • Fortunately, my girlfriend is very understanding.

(Definition of “understanding” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"understanding" in American English

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understandingnoun

us /ˌʌn·dərˈstæn·dɪŋ/

understanding noun (BELIEF)

[ C usually sing ] something that you have reason to believe:

[ + that clause ] Ours was a generation brought up with the understanding (= belief) that science meant progress.

[ C usually sing ] An understanding is also an informal agreement between people:

The two sides have come to/reached an understanding about the sale of the house.

understanding noun (KNOWLEDGE)

[ U ] knowledge of a particular thing:

He doesn’t have any real understanding of mathematics.

[ U ] Understanding is also a feeling of kindness and caring based on knowledge, esp. of the causes of behavior:

The values he had in mind were simply family love and understanding.

understandingadjective

us /ˌʌn·dərˈstæn·dɪŋ/

understanding adjective (CARING)

sympathetic and caring:

an understanding friend

(Definition of “understanding” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"understanding" in Business English

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understandingnoun [ C ]

uk /ˌʌndəˈstændɪŋ/ us

an informal agreement:

Taiwan and Hong Kong reached an understanding for a five-year commercial air agreement.

(Definition of “understanding” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)