Definition of understanding in English:



  • 1The ability to understand something; comprehension.

    ‘foreign visitors with little understanding of English’
    • ‘The sum is so beyond the realms of understanding that he can't grasp it.’
    • ‘She basked in the glow of it, without understanding or comprehension, as a plant receives sunlight.’
    • ‘My job here is to facilitate your understanding and ability.’
    • ‘He constantly strives to increase his abilities and his understanding of the obstacles around him.’
    • ‘Some things, however, seemed destined to remain beyond my understanding.’
    • ‘We obtain thereby a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation of every field.’
    • ‘Her idea of achievement is a clean house and an empty ironing basket; the demands of my career are quite beyond her understanding.’
    • ‘It may not be until June or July of next year until a more comprehensive understanding of the problem is reached.’
    • ‘They and others, such as the lawyers in the case, were edging forward in trying to improve their understanding and abilities in these difficult matters.’
    • ‘A-levels provided a ready platform of knowledge and understanding that undergraduates built on during their three years at university.’
    • ‘Modern understandings of astrophysics allow three possible fates for such a collapsing star.’
    • ‘Only someone with no real knowledge or understanding of the history of ideas could take such a fad seriously.’
    • ‘Edwards clearly relying on someone else's brief, rather than his own knowledge or understanding of the issues.’
    • ‘From their point of view, understanding the social and cultural impact is far better and far more valuable.’
    • ‘In the intervening period, I invested a great deal of energy in the search for explanations and understanding.’
    • ‘Our understanding of and ability to control quantum systems have never been so good.’
    • ‘The compulsion that has driven the directors of these movies is beyond my understanding.’
    • ‘It seems that our people's poet had an intimate knowledge and understanding of human psychology.’
    • ‘Her levels of engagement, understanding and ability to follow the differentiated curriculum will have to be monitored.’
    • ‘It is beyond any understanding how he could have been caught up in all of this.’
    comprehension, apprehension, grasp, grip, mastery, perception, discernment, appreciation, interpretation, cognizance, ken, conception, digestion, assimilation, absorption
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    1. 1.1The power of abstract thought; intellect.
      ‘a child of sufficient intelligence and understanding’
      • ‘Without perfect knowledge and perfect understanding, we cannot expect to make perfect decisions.’
      • ‘Wisdom and understanding have always been powerful and effective weapons against a poor belief/approach.’
      • ‘The essay is an examination of the nature of the human mind and its powers of understanding.’
      • ‘He claims both superior knowledge and superior understanding.’
      • ‘Reading with their parents and other caregivers can expand children's imagination, knowledge and understanding.’
      • ‘Dogs are not noted for their understanding of abstract concepts, and so do not manifest altruism or self-sacrifice in any meaningful sense.’
      • ‘We engaged our intellects to deepen our understanding of the natural world and human society in all of its manifestations.’
      • ‘I am aware, and hope I have also made it clear to the reader, that merely intellectual understanding is not sufficient.’
      • ‘The law is not concerned with the brain but with the mind, in the sense that mind is ordinarily used, the mental faculties of reason, memory and understanding.’
      • ‘As the authors remind us, intellectual understanding doesn't necessarily lead to change.’
      intellect, intelligence, mind, brainpower, capability, insight, judgement, sense, reason, reasoning
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    2. 1.2An individual's perception or judgment of a situation.
      ‘my understanding was that he would try to find a new supplier’
      • ‘Perhaps, but then every individual's understanding of the world is unique.’
      • ‘It is clear that what is acceptable to be bared in society varies according to societal or individual understanding.’
      • ‘Our understanding of normal sensory perception is based upon observations that are reproducible.’
      • ‘I think we have divergent understandings of multiculturalism.’
      • ‘That is, we filter and interpret information through our own experience and understandings.’
      • ‘This has been an unfortunately brief, but crucial attempt at increasing our understanding of the situation we find ourselves in.’
      • ‘My understanding is that this situation can only be changed by way of a legal challenge.’
      • ‘To be able to get so personal over a subject which is so controversial shows a complete lack of understanding of the situation from our point of view.’
      • ‘Some sessions with a family therapist would surely improve your understanding of the situation.’
      • ‘My understanding of the situation regarding the region was also influenced by his work.’
      • ‘The first understandings of celestial mechanics were not dependent on vast stretches of time.’
      • ‘They had been confident enough in their understanding of the situation to ignore the caution in the manual.’
      • ‘It is my understanding that this individual is cooperating and providing information to the investigators.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the reader's understanding of the situation remains impoverished.’
      • ‘My understanding of the situation a few years ago was that there were two main groups.’
      • ‘Yet for people to act responsibly, they must first have a certain level of understanding of the situation which faces them.’
      • ‘The region is treated as part of the country in the memorandum, according to regional diplomats' understanding of the situation.’
      • ‘The reader comes to views and opinions and understandings that the narrator does not share.’
      • ‘His understanding of the situation was that a fracas had spilled over from the field of play to where substitutes were sitting and they got involved.’
      • ‘They suffer from varying degrees of autism, which impairs an individual's understanding of everyday life.’
      belief, perception, view, notion, idea, conclusion, conviction, feeling, opinion, intuition, impression, assumption, supposition, postulation, way of thinking, point of view
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    3. 1.3Sympathetic awareness or tolerance.
      ‘a problem that needs to be handled with understanding’
      • ‘Every story he tells in some way teaches tolerance and understanding.’
      • ‘I think it is a totally different place and quite honestly a much better place in terms of tolerance and understanding.’
      • ‘The steps towards tolerance and understanding between the communities will be slow and arduous.’
      • ‘I am incensed at the lack of tolerance and understanding that still exists in some quarters.’
      • ‘The support and understanding parents provide can help kids accept their most frightening emotions.’
      • ‘People like them would make all the difference in building bridges of tolerance and understanding, he said.’
      • ‘I would like to briefly preach the merits of tolerance and understanding.’
      • ‘They have shown no compassion, no understanding, no tolerance, and especially, no patience.’
      • ‘What shocks you more is your growing lack of patience, of understanding, of comprehension.’
      • ‘It would promote tolerance and understanding in the community.’
      • ‘Now, as was the case back then, a little tolerance and understanding is needed.’
      • ‘This training includes awareness and understanding of post traumatic stress.’
      • ‘Tolerance and understanding develops between Ruth and other members of the household.’
      • ‘Public awareness and understanding will go a long way in making the life of such a person more meaningful and relaxed.’
      • ‘You could admit your insecurities and ask for his tolerance and understanding as you try to work them out.’
      • ‘All I would like is a little tolerance and understanding.’
      • ‘Tolerance and understanding come from education.’
      • ‘He thanked the people of the town for their remarkable tolerance and understanding.’
      • ‘In spite of this, they constantly discuss ways to increase awareness and understanding of their problems.’
      • ‘The best tool for raising awareness and understanding is teaching.’
      compassion, sympathy, pity, empathy, feeling, concern, considerateness, consideration, tenderness, tender-heartedness, kindness, kind-heartedness, sensitivity, insight, fellow feeling, brotherly love, neighbourliness, decency, humanity, humanitarianism, humaneness, charity, goodwill, mercy, mercifulness, gentleness, tolerance, lenience, leniency, warmth, warm-heartedness, affection, love
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    4. 1.4An informal or unspoken agreement or arrangement.
      ‘he and I have an understanding’
      ‘he had only been allowed to come on the understanding that he would be on his best behavior’
      • ‘Will we start to see signs that understandings have been reached between the two operators?’
      • ‘Once these understandings are in place, then parent and child can rely on them.’
      • ‘But it is tied into international agreements, conventions, and understandings.’
      • ‘It is the complex network of friends who look out for each other and run council affairs on the basis of shared understandings.’
      • ‘Still we manage to spend whole lifetimes together based on such understandings.’
      • ‘This agreement supersedes any prior agreements or understandings between the parties as to this subject matter.’
      • ‘Her statement became the basis for understandings between the two countries.’
      • ‘The challenge is to create shared - but not necessarily common - understandings.’
      • ‘Silence, or understandings based on silence, does not commitments make.’
      • ‘Further, consent is subject to the cultural rules and understandings of that community.’
      • ‘All was talk except for what mattered most, which were unspoken understandings.’
      • ‘They just do not come close to telling the whole story, since informal understandings and norms are crucial in determining outcomes.’
      • ‘Some cultures still have these understandings, where the men and women know their roles in a relationship.’
      • ‘How do we establish mutual agreements or common understandings while respecting diversity?’
      • ‘They're going to come out of this with a coherent set of guidelines and understandings.’
      • ‘All the laws and international understandings created as a result of two world wars will be destroyed.’
      agreement, gentleman's agreement, arrangement, deal, bargain, settlement, pledge, promise, pact, compact, contract, concord, treaty, covenant, bond
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  • 1Sympathetically aware of other people's feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

    ‘people expect their doctor to be understanding’
    • ‘On top of this he said that if you fell on hard times, you would find a more human and understanding approach in the credit union, than the banks.’
    • ‘The agent behind the desk was very understanding and sympathetic.’
    • ‘A kind and understanding approach to any problem you may have, will be offered.’
    • ‘I still do, still think I should have been more alert, more aware, more understanding of what my boy was going through.’
    • ‘She said her family was understanding and supportive, and all her five sisters had in-dependent personalities.’
    • ‘When your partner is a comic book artist you have to be very understanding and tolerant of their life style, which seems to mean having little life besides comics.’
    • ‘And still he encouraged her on, with sympathetic phrases and understanding nods.’
    • ‘But being the tolerant, understanding guy that I am, I wanted to know more.’
    • ‘I became a totally different person, more knowledgeable, more tolerant, more understanding.’
    • ‘The look in her eyes was one of sympathy but also understanding.’
    • ‘However, she did appreciate him for being such a considerate and understanding partner.’
    • ‘She turned to him, amazed at how understanding and patient he could be.’
    • ‘But, in general, people are very understanding and quite patient.’
    • ‘If things have happened in your past that have damaged your trust, you may find you need the understanding support of your partner to rebuild your faith in others.’
    • ‘My search was met with an understanding exasperation, as though he'd hoped that I would not ask.’
    • ‘He moved to a new town, Thames, where he found a supportive psychologist and an understanding landlord.’
    • ‘I need a sympathetic, understanding elder right now, one who can help me out in my dilemma.’
    • ‘Luckily they are all very understanding and supportive.’
    • ‘Mr Burn said the smokers he approached were very understanding when he told them that the smoking area might be closed down.’
    • ‘An assuring hand was placed on her arm, and she looked up to meet his sympathetic, understanding gaze.’
    compassionate, sympathetic, sensitive, considerate, tender, kind, kindly, kind-hearted, thoughtful, tolerant, patient, forbearing, lenient, merciful, forgiving, humane, human, good-natured, approachable, supportive, reassuring
    tactful, diplomatic, perceptive, subtle, prudent
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  • 2archaic Having insight or good judgment.

    • ‘If you lack understanding and meditative insight, this test could become an obstacle.’