un·der·stand / ˌəndərˈstand/ • v. (past and past part. -stood) 1. [tr.] perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker): he didn't understand a word I said | he could usually make himself understood | she understood what he was saying. ∎ perceive the significance, explanation, or cause of (something): she didn't really understand the situation | he couldn't understand why we burst out laughing | [intr.] you don't understand—she has left me. ∎ be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of: Picasso understood color | I understand how you feel. ∎ interpret or view (something) in a particular way: as the term is usually understood, legislation refers to regulations and directives. 2. infer something from information received (often used as a polite formula in conversation): I understand you're at art school| [tr.] as I understood it, she was flying back to New Zealand tomorrow. ∎ [tr.] (often be understood) regard (a missing word, phrase, or idea) as present; supply mentally: “present company excepted” is always understood when sweeping generalizations are being made. ∎ [tr.] (often be understood) assume to be the case; take for granted: he liked to play the field—that was understood.DERIVATIVES: un·der·stand·er n.