Etymology
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comprehend (v.)

mid-14c., "to understand, take into the mind, grasp by understanding," late 14c., "to take in, include;" 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 probably "completely" (see com-) + prehendere "to catch hold of, seize."

The (partial) range of senses in Latin prehendere was "to lay hold of, to grasp, snatch, seize, catch; occupy violently; take by surprise, catch in the act; to reach, arrive at;" of trees, "to take root;" of the mind, "to seize, apprehend, comprehend," though this last sense is marked "very rare" in Lewis & Short.

It is a compound of  prae- "before" (see pre-) + -hendere, found only in compounds, from PIE root *ghend- "to seize, take." De Vaan regards the compound as Proto-Italic. Related: Comprehended; comprehending.

Compare the sense development in German begriefen, literally "to seize," but, through the writings of the 14c. mystics, "to seize with the mind, to comprehend."

Origin and meaning of comprehend

updated on October 13, 2021

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Definitions of comprehend from WordNet

comprehend (v.)
get the meaning of something;
Do you comprehend the meaning of this letter?
Synonyms: grok / get the picture / savvy / dig / grasp / compass / apprehend
comprehend (v.)
to become aware of through the senses;
Synonyms: perceive
comprehend (v.)
include in scope; include as part of something broader; have as one's sphere or territory;
Synonyms: embrace / encompass / cover
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.