Etymology
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interpret (v.)

late 14c., "expound the meaning of, render clear or explicit," from Old French interpreter "explain; translate" (13c.) and directly from Latin interpretari "explain, expound, understand," from interpres "agent, translator," from inter "between" (see inter-) + second element probably from PIE *per- (5) "to traffic in, sell." Related: Interpreted; interpreting.

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fathom (v.)

Old English fæðmian "to embrace, surround, envelop," from a Proto-Germanic verb derived from the source of fathom (n.); cognates: Old High German fademon, Old Norse faþma. The meaning "take soundings" is from c. 1600; its figurative sense of "get to the bottom of, penetrate with the mind, understand" is from 1620s. Related: Fathomed; fathoming.

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insense (v.)

"teach, instruct, cause (someone) to understand," c. 1400, ensense, from Old French ensenser "to enlighten, to bring to sense," from en- "in" (from PIE root *en "in") + sens (see sense (n.)). "From 17th c. app. only dialectal (chiefly northern), or in writers under dialectal influence" [OED].

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skilled (adj.)

1550s, past-participle adjective from skill (v.) "to have personal and practical knowledge" (c. 1200), from Old Norse skilja "separate, part, divide; break off, break up; part company, take leave; discern, distinguish; understand, find out; decide, settle," from the source of skill (n.).

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diffuse (adj.)
Origin and meaning of diffuse

early 15c., "hard to understand;" also, of writers, "verbose, using many words;" from Latin diffusus, past participle of diffundere "scatter, pour out," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Meaning "widely spread or diffused, scattered" is from late 15c.

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cunning (n.)

c. 1300, conninge, "knowledge, understanding, information, learning," a sense now obsolete, verbal noun from connen, cunnen "to have ability or capacity," from Old English cunnan (see can v.1). By mid-14c. as "ability to understand, intelligence; wisdom, prudence;" sense of "cleverness, shrewdness, practical skill in a secret or crafty manner" is by late 14c. 

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distinctly (adv.)

late 14c., "in a distinct manner, not confusedly or obscurely," from distinct + -ly (2). Hence, "without a doubt, obviously" (1858).

[D]istinctly, in the sense really quite, is the badge of the superior person indulgently recognizing unexpected merit in something that we are to understand is not quite worthy of his notice. [Fowler]
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opaque (adj.)

early 15c., opake, "dark, shaded, unlit" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin opacus "shaded, in the shade, shady, dark, darkened, obscure," of unknown origin. Spelling influenced after c. 1650 by French opaque (c. 1500), from the Latin. Meaning "impervious to the rays of light" is from 1640s. Figurative sense of "obscure, hard to understand" is from 1761. Related: Opaquely; opaqueness.

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intellect (n.)

"the sum of the cognitive facilities (except sense or sense and imagination), the capacity for reasoning truth," late 14c. (but little used before 16c.), from Old French intellect "intellectual capacity" (13c.), and directly from Latin intellectus "discernment, a perception, understanding," noun use of past participle of intelligere "to understand, discern" (see intelligence). The Latin word was used to translate Greek nous "mind, thought, intellect" in Aristotle.

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empathize (v.)

"understand and share the feelings of another," by 1917, from empathy + -ize. Related: Empathized; empathizing. Earlier appearances of the word in print seem to be an error for emphasize:

Obstetric Therapeutics.—Prof. Smiley will devote attention to this very important branch of the practice of medicine; he will especially empathize the Homoepathic therapeutics so often called for during the period of gestation. [The Medical Advance, Chicago, March 1895]
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