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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English construen, from Late Latin construo, construere (to relate grammatically), from Latin construo (pile together); doublet of construct.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈstɹuː/
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈkɒnstəɹ/[1]
  • (file)


construe (plural construes)

  1. A translation.
  2. An interpretation.

Related terms[edit]



construe (third-person singular simple present construes, present participle construing, simple past and past participle construed)

  1. (transitive) To understand (something) as meaning, to take to mean.
    • 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i], page 110, column 1:
      Bru[tus]. [] But let not therefore my good Friends be greeu'd
      (Among which number Cassius be you one)
      Nor conſtrue any further my neglect,
      Then that poore Brutus with himſelfe at warre,
      Forgets the ſhews of Loue to other men.
      The metre requires the obsolete pronunciation cónstrue
    • 1954, Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons:
      The world must construe according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law.
  2. (transitive) To interpret (something) to another or publicly, explain the meaning (of something), usually language.
    • 1750, “To [Sir Horace Mann], Feb. 25. — Ministerial quarrels [] ”, in The Letter of Horace Walpole, Earl of Oxford, volume II, London: Richard Betley, New Burlington Street, published 1840, page 319:
      This is a new fashionable proverb, which I must construe to you.
  3. (grammar, transitive) To analyze the grammatical structure of a clause or sentence; to parse.
    • 1988, Andrew Radford, chapter 8, in Transformational grammar: a first course, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, page 436:
      Thus, in a sentence such as:
      (113)      John considers [S Fred to be too sure of himself]
      the italicised Reflexive himself can only be construed with Fred, not with John: this follows from our assumption that non-subject Reflexives must have an antecedent within their own S. Notice, however, that in a sentence such as:
      (114)      John seems to me [S — to have perjured himself]
      himself must be construed with John.
  4. (grammar, ergative) To admit of grammatical analysis.
  5. (transitive) To translate.
  6. To infer.
  7. (obsolete) To explain.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Construe” in John Walker, A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary [] , London: Sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinſon, Paternoſter Row; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1791, →OCLC, page 162: “Thoſe who ought to be the guardians of propriety are often the perverters of it. Hence Accidence for Accidents, Prepoſtor for Prepoſitor and Conſtur for Conſtrue [] ”.





  1. second-person singular present active imperative of cōnstruō