mid-14c., "to understand," from Latin comprehendere "to take together, to unite; include; seize" (of catching fire or the arrest of criminals); also "to comprehend, perceive" (to seize or take in the mind), from com "with, together," here "completely" (see com-) + prehendere "to catch hold of, seize" (see prehensile). Related: Comprehended; comprehending. Compare sense development in German begriefen, literally "to seize," but, through the writings of the 14c. mystics, "to seize with the mind, to comprehend."
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