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Definition to understand something — especially to understand it completely

Much more rarely (and more frequently in the past), comprehend can mean to include as part of something broader. That was the first sense of the word listed in Webster's Dictionary of 1828 with this sample sentence:  "The empire of Great Britain comprehends England, Scotland and Ireland, with their dependencies."
  • I don't think she comprehends how dangerous this has become.
comprehends = fully understands
  • Washington fails to comprehend the change in China's strategy.
  • comprehend = fully understand
  • Perhaps, if you explained yourself a little more fully, I should comprehend better.
    Charlotte Bronte  --  Jane Eyre
  • One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day.
    Albert Einstein
  • Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky  --  The Brothers Karamazov
  • We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications... In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
    Dwight D Eisenhower
  • Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living.
    Job 28:13 (NIV)
  • For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    Romans 13:9 (KJV)
  • Do you comprehend the meaning of the statement?
  • It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preservation of civilization depends. Historically this has been achieved by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions and superstitions which made man submit to those forces by an appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand.
    Friedrich A. Hayek
  • He felt as if he was walking in a dream, not quite able to comprehend what was going on around him.
    Louis Sachar  --  Holes
  • comprehend = fully understand
  • He was incomprehensible.
    John Knowles  --  A Separate Peace
  • incomprehensible = not understandable
    (editor's note:  The prefix "in-" in incomprehensible means not and reverses the meaning of comprehensible. This is the same pattern you see in words like incomplete, independent, and inexpensive.)
  • They have worries, aims, desires, that I cannot comprehend.
    Erich Maria Remarque  --  All Quiet on the Western Front
  • comprehend = understand
  • "But you will be faced, now," she explained gently, "with pain of a magnitude that none of us here can comprehend because it is beyond our experience."
    Lois Lowry  --  The Giver
  • comprehend = understand
  • ...I tried, hard, to comprehend everything that had just happened.
    Sarah Dessen  --  The Truth About Forever
  • comprehend = understand completely
  • Yet, for a wild moment, did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of what I saw.
    Edgar Allan Poe  --  The Pit and the Pendulum
  • comprehend = understand
  • to catch and comprehend the exact truth of the whole;
    Jane Austen  --  Emma
  • comprehend = fully understand
  • I just couldn't comprehend what I'd seen.
    Rick Riordan  --  The Battle of the Labyrinth
  • comprehend = understand — especially to understand it completely
  • ...a listener, comprehending nothing of the language in which the preacher spoke, might still have been swayed to and fro by the mere tone and cadence.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne  --  The Scarlet Letter
  • comprehending = understanding
  • With one quick rush of comprehension he understood what she was doing.
    Dalton Trumbo  --  Johnny Got His Gun
comprehension = understanding (especially complete understanding)

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