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Definition of “understand” - English Dictionary

"understand" in American English

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understandverb

us   /ˌʌn·dərˈstænd/ past tense and past participle understood /ˌʌn·dərˈstʊd/
  • understand verb (KNOW)

to know the meaning of something, or to know how a person feels and why the person behaves in a particular way: [+ question word] I don’t understand what he means. [T] Is there anyone here who understands English? [T] It was so noisy I couldn’t understand (= recognize) a word he was saying. [I] If you choose not to come, I’ll understand. [T] He claimed that no one ever understood him (= had any sympathy for him or knew what he was feeling). [+ question word] I understand how she feels about the loss of her dog. [T] It is understood that (= Everyone knows and accepts that) you don’t bring food or drinks into the library.
  • understand verb (BELIEVE)

[T] to believe something is true because you have been told something that causes you to think it: [+ (that) clause] I understand (that) the show will go on, but with a different cast. I understood him to say (= I believed that he said) that the trip had been canceled.
(Definition of understand from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)







"understand" in British English

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understandverb

uk   /ˌʌn.dəˈstænd/ us   /ˌʌn.dɚˈstænd/ understood, understood
  • understand verb (KNOW)

A1 [I or T] to know the meaning of something that someone says: She explained the whole idea again, but I still didn't understand. Is there anyone here who understands Arabic? I think he was calling from a club - it was so noisy, I couldn't understand a word he said.
A2 [I or T] to know why or how something happens or works: [+ question word] We still don't fully understand how the brain works.
B1 [I or T] to know how someone feels or why someone behaves in a particular way: My wife doesn't understand me. Sometimes I don't understand James. [+ question word] You don't understand what it's like/how it feels to have to beg on the streets.
understand sb to mean sth
to think, especially wrongly, that someone means a particular thing: When he said three o'clock, I understood him to mean in the afternoon.
understand each other/one another
When two people understand one another, they both know what the other means and wants and they have an agreement: I wanted to make sure that we want the same things, that we really understand each other.

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  • understand verb (REALIZE)

C1 [T] formal to know or realize something because you have been told it: [+ (that)] I understand (that) you are interested in borrowing some money from us. [+ that] The Director had given her to understand (= told her) that she would be promoted. [+ obj + to infinitive ] A secret buyer is understood to have paid $1 million for the three pictures (= there is unofficial news that this has happened).
[I or T] formal used when making certain that someone knows what you mean and will do as you want: I don't want you to see that boy again. Understand?/Do you understand?/Is that understood?
it is understood formal
used to refer to something such as a rule that everyone knows and accepts: In the library it is understood that people should talk quietly.

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(Definition of understand from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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