Understand vs Recondite - What's the difference?

understand | recondite |

As a verb understand

is to be aware of the meaning of.

As a adjective recondite is

hidden from the mental or intellectual view; secret; abstruse.



Alternative forms

* understaund (obsolete)


  • (lb) To be aware of the meaning of.
  • :
  • :
  • *(William Shakespeare) (1564-1616)
  • *:I understand not what you mean by this.
  • *{{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-14, author= Sam Leith
  • , volume=189, issue=1, page=37, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Where the profound meets the profane , passage=Swearing doesn't just mean what we now understand by "dirty words". It is entwined, in social and linguistic history, with the other sort of swearing: vows and oaths.}}
  • To believe, based on information.
  • :
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham)
  • , title=(The China Governess) , chapter=Foreword citation , passage=‘I understand that the district was considered a sort of sanctuary,’ the Chief was saying. ‘An Alsatia like the ancient one behind the Strand, or the Saffron Hill before the First World War.
  • To impute meaning, character etc. that is not explicitly stated.
  • :
  • :In this sense, the word is usually used in the past participle:
  • ::
  • *(John Locke) (1632-1705)
  • *:The most learned interpreters understood the words of sin, and not of Abel.
  • *
  • *:Thus, when he drew up instructions in lawyer language, he expressed the important words by an initial, a medial, or a final consonant, and made scratches for all the words between; his clerks, however, understood him very well.
  • To stand under; to support.
  • :(Shakespeare)
  • Usage notes

    * Common objects of this verb include text'', ''word(s)'', ''sentence(s)'', ''note(s) , etc. * Rarely, the obsolete past tense form understanded'' may be found, e.g. in the ''Book of Common Prayer'' and ''Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church .


    * (to know the meaning) apprehend, comprehend, grasp, know, perceive, pick up what someone is putting down, realise, grok * (to believe) believe


    * misunderstand

    Derived terms

    * I don’t understand * understandable * understanding * understood

    See also

    * explain * why




    (en adjective)
  • (of areas of study and literature) Difficult, obscure; particularly:
  • # Abstruse, profound, difficult to grasp
  • #* 1619 , John Bainbridge, Astronomicall description of the late comet , 42
  • I hope this new Messenger from Heauen]] doth bring happie tidings of some munificent and liberall Patron... by whose gracious bountie the most recondite mysteries of this abstruse and [[divine, diuine science shall at length be manifested.
  • #* ante'' 1894 , (Robert Louis Stevenson), ''Amateur Emigrant (1895), 40
  • Humanly speaking, it is a more important matter to play the fiddle, even badly, than to write huge works upon recondite subjects.
  • # Esoteric, little known; secret
  • #* 1644 , John Bulwer, Chirologia: or The naturall language of the hand. Whereunto is added Chironomic or the Art of manuall rhetoricke , 137
  • There was in the man much learning, and that of the more inward & recondit , a great Antiquary, and one that had a certain large possession of Divine and Humane]] [[laws, Lawes.
  • #* 1722 , F. Lee, Epistolary Discourses , 41
  • The Apostle Paul had taken up many things out of these Recondite and Apocryphal Writings.
  • #* 1817 , (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Biographia Literaria , I. iii. 65
  • [Of Southey:] I look in vain for any writer who has conveyed so much information, from so many and such recondite sources.
  • #* 1849 , (Herman Melville), Mardi: and A Voyage Thither , II. §67
  • But I beseech thee, wise Doxodox! instruct me in thy dialectics, that I may embrace thy more recondite lore.
  • #* 1921 , (Joseph Conrad), Secret Agent'', Preface in ''Works , VIII. page xvii
  • Suggestions for certain personages... came from various sources which... some reader may have recognized. They are not very recondite .
  • #* 1948 , (William Somerset Maugham), Catalina , xv. 83
  • He was never at a loss for a recondite allusion.
  • #* 1992 Autumn, American Scholar , 576/1
  • It was hardly foreordained that a poor orphan from darkest Brittany... working in the recondite realms of Semitic philology, should play such a role in his time.
  • #* 2004 , Alexander McCall Smith, Sunday Philosophy Club , xxi. 224
  • While oenophiles resorted to recondite adjectives, whisky [sic] nosers spoke the language of everyday life.
  • # (of writers) Deliberately obscure; employing abstruse or esoteric allusions or references
  • #* 1788 , Vicesimus Knox, Winter Evenings , II. v. i. 109
  • They afford a lesson to the modern metaphysical and recondite writers not to overvalue their works.
  • #* 1817 , (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Biographia literaria; or, Biographical sketches of my literary life and opinions , II. xxii. 172
  • In the play of fancy, , to my feelings, is not always graceful and sometimes recondite .
  • #* 2004 Autumn, American Scholar , 129
  • The voices of recondite writers quoted at length, forgotten storytellers weaving narratives, obscure scholars savaging one another.
  • # (of scholars) Learnèd]], having mastery over one's field, including its esoteric [[minutiæ
  • #* 1836 , (Edward Bulwer-Lytton), "Sir Thomas Browne" in The Critical and Miscellaneous Writings of Sir Edward Lytton (1841), II, 41
  • It is delightful to see this recondite scholar — this contemplative and refining dreamer — in the centre of his happy nor unworthy household.
  • #* 1891 , George T. Ferris, The Great German Composers
  • [Of ]: Our musician rapidly became known far and wide throughout the musical centres of Germany as a learned and recondite composer.
  • #* 1998 , , Art for Art's Sake & Literary Life , 1
  • Cousin's lectures take their initial cue from the weighty treatises of a remote, recondite thinker named (Immanuel Kant).
  • Hidden or removed from view
  • * 1649 , John Bulwer, Pathomyotomia , ii. ii. 108
  • The Eye is somewhat recondit betweene its Orbite.
  • * 1796 , (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Letters , I. 209
  • My recondite eye sits distent quaintly behind the flesh-hill, and looks as little as a tomtit's.
  • * 1823 , (Charles Lamb), Old Benchers in Elia , 190
  • The young urchins,... not being able to guess at its recondite machinery, were almost tempted to hail the wondrous work as magic.
  • * 1825 , Thomas Say, Say's Entomol. , Glossary, 28
  • Recondite , (aculeus) concealed within the abdomen, seldom exposed to view.
  • * 1857 , (Charles Dickens), Little Dorrit , §21
  • How such a man should suppose himself unwell without reason, you may think strange. But I have found nothing the matter with him. He may have some deep-seated recondite complaint. I can't say. I only say, that at present I have not found it out.
  • * 1887 , (Robert Louis Stevenson), "The Canoe Speaks" in Underwoods
  • ...following the recondite brook,
    Sudden upon this scene I look,
    And light with unfamiliar face
    On chaste Diana's bathing-place
  • * 2002 , Nick Tosches, In the Hand of Dante , 253
  • Silent calligraphy sounds that were like those of the sweet fluent water of a recondite stream.
  • Shy, avoiding notice (particularly human notice)
  • * 1835 , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society , 125, 361
  • Animals of this class are so recondite in their habits... so little known to naturalists beyond the more common species.


  • to hide, cover up, conceal
  • * 1578 , John Banister, The History of Man , i. f. 32
  • Tendons: recondited , and hidde in their Muscle, as if they were in a purse imposed.


    * Oxford English Dictionary , 3rd ed. "recondite, adj." and "v." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2009. *


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