Definition of comprehension in English:



  • 1The ability to understand something.

    ‘some won't have the least comprehension of what I'm trying to do’
    ‘the comprehension of spoken language’
    • ‘Instead of that sixth-grade math class, I think maybe Murray needs a few remedial lessons in verbal comprehension.’
    • ‘On the other hand, reading the texts from two different perspectives may improve comprehension.’
    • ‘The look changed to one of dawning comprehension and the guard turned to shout a warning.’
    • ‘Her mother looked at her for a moment before comprehension dawned on her face.’
    • ‘Despite the anxiety that went with less than full comprehension, he took the job.’
    • ‘I admit it is a big challenge for my English listening comprehension.’
    • ‘Both types of curriculum encompass listening comprehension, speaking, reading, writing, and grammar components.’
    • ‘How do I decode such an obtuse dialect with my mere mortal comprehension of the English language?’
    • ‘Do not mistake my accent for poor comprehension of your language.’
    • ‘To enhance comprehension, workbooks contain lessons but not headings or titles.’
    • ‘The passage of time and the limits of the written record have rendered full comprehension unobtainable.’
    • ‘Success in the math lesson was not dependent on the students' full comprehension of mathematical problems or questions.’
    • ‘It is simply beyond a tourist's comprehension to understand why such ancient monuments, which do not require maintenance on a weekly basis, are closed once a week.’
    • ‘According to Wolf and Bowers, they may also show problems in reading comprehension.’
    • ‘And how such reading exercises would help genuine poets replenish their language defies comprehension.’
    • ‘When reading comprehension is assessed through writing, these difficulties are compounded.’
    • ‘Since you are striving for something that is basically beyond your comprehension and ability, you cannot trust yourself to do all the right things to get you there.’
    • ‘What makes the red heifer so interesting is that it is beyond human comprehension.’
    • ‘Bells and whistles don't necessarily improve comprehension, says Mathie.’
    • ‘Letter matching was also found to predict significantly reading comprehension in later elementary school.’
    understanding, ability to understand, grasp, grip, conception, apprehension, cognition, cognizance, ken, knowledge, awareness, perception, discernment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1British The setting of questions on a set text to test understanding, as a school exercise.
      [as modifier] ‘comprehension exercises’
      • ‘The comprehensions and the questions on them were lovely.’
      • ‘The comprehensions are normally difficult but it was really manageable.’
      • ‘The comprehensions were challenging but in the composition section the varied choice of essay titles in general satisfied the students.’
      • ‘On other occasions a maths worksheet or a written comprehension exercise might be the homework activity.’
      • ‘Materials include comprehension questions and ideas for discussion or accompanying activities and games.’
      • ‘In my office I was able to cut stencils on a heavy-duty office typewriter and run off sheets of grammar, comprehension and writing exercises on the office Gestetner duplicator.’
      • ‘She said the comprehensions at ordinary level were a bit difficult and the grammar was as hard as at higher level but the topics should have been of interest to students.’
      • ‘I dare say that these days children aren't faced with a reading list, to be followed up by a series of comprehension exercises.’
      • ‘One of the comprehensions, dealing with the Irish Army involvement with the UN, he felt was okay.’
  • 2archaic Inclusion.

    1. 2.1historical The inclusion of Nonconformists within the Established Church of England (as proposed in the 17th to 19th centuries but not adopted).


Late Middle English: from French compréhension or Latin comprehensio(n-), from the verb comprehendere seize, comprise (see comprehend).