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 verstehen on Wikipedia


Unadapted borrowing from German Verstehen or German verstehen (to understand, comprehend).


  • IPA(key): /və(ɹ)ˈʃteɪ.ən/


verstehen (uncountable)

  1. (sociology) A stance that attempts to understand the meaning of action from the actor’s point of view, so that the actor is seen as a subject rather than an object of observation.



From Middle High German verstān, virstēn, vorstēn, ferstān, from Old High German firstān, firstēn, from Proto-Germanic *frastāną, equivalent to ver- +‎ stehen. Cognate with Dutch verstaan, Middle Low German vorstān. Compare also English forstand.


  • IPA(key): [fɛɐ̯ˈʃteːən]
  • (Germany)
  • (Germany)
  • (Austria)


verstehen (irregular strong, third-person singular present versteht, past tense verstand, past participle verstanden, past subjunctive verstände or verstünde, auxiliary haben)

  1. (transitive or intransitive) to understand, comprehend, make sense of (to be aware of the meaning of)
    Ich verstehe, wie diese Maschine funktioniert
    I understand how this machine works.
  2. (transitive) to know, know how to, be good (with) (to understand or have a grasp of through experience or study)
  3. (transitive) to understand, take, see (to impute meaning, etc., that is not explicitly stated)
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:begreifen
  4. (reflexive) to get along well (with=mit), to like
    Sie verstehen sich miteinander.
    They get along well with each other.
  5. (reflexive) to understand each other, hear each other (to be able to communicate)
  6. (reflexive) to go without saying, to be obvious
    (informal) Versteht sich!Of course!
  7. (reflexive) to think of oneself (as something)
  8. (reflexive) to be an expert (at something)


Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • verstehen” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • verstehen” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
  • verstehen” in Duden online
  • verstehen” in