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We just can not think of a word to describe this situation where you understand something completely. There is nothing you do not know about it.

If anyone knows or has something close then that would be great.

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10 Answers 10

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Comprehend and fathom are fine candidates, I'll just throw in attain enlightenment for good measure.

Edit: oh, and how about grok (Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary)?

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+1 for grokking the meaning of grok. – rsenna Jan 25 '11 at 15:24
+1 for grok, that'd be my suggestion... – andrewdotnich Sep 16 '11 at 1:04

fathom, though more often used in the negative (he could hardly fathom...), means to “comprehend after much thought”. comprehend also has this same connotation.

Expressions such as puzzle out or get to the bottom of have the sense of understanding completely, but also mean it was figured out (i.e. that knowledge is recent). It may or may not be adequate for your use case.

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According to Wiktionary, to comprehend is "to understand or grasp fully and thoroughly".

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I would use omniscient.

The story is told by an omniscient narrator.

From the NOAD:

omniscient /ɑmˈnɪʃənt/
knowing everything

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A bit too strong, IMHO. Omniscient means "knowing everything" rather than "knowing something completely". – Rafał Dowgird Jan 26 '11 at 13:43

Informally, the term guru might apply here.

Struggling with his spreadsheet, Bob knew where to turn: Alice was the Excel guru in the office.

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Speaking as someone who has worked for an educational testing company, the students who demonstrated the best understanding of an essay topic were described as having a thorough understanding.

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You could use Master, a term used in the trades.

In order of least skilled to most skilled: Novice/Apprentice ---> Journeyman -------> Master

Mastery is also used for cognitive processes: mastered a language, mastered algebra.

A slang term is Whiz, that's likely short for Wizard.

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I feel obliged to add grok. From Wikipedia:

Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience.

When you claim to 'grok' some knowledge or technique, you are asserting that you have not merely learned it in a detached instrumental way but that it has become part of you, part of your identity.

Example: It took me forever to grok recursive functions.

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I'm not sure that the situation ever arises. The (world's) leading authority on a subject is perhaps a safer concept, but who decides who that is?

I couldn't say for sure.

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Perhaps this is not the word, but reading your question it seemed to me you were describing a moment or a situation more-so than you were a person,

in which case there is a beautiful German word which is aha-Erlibnes, meaning;

  • (literally) an "aha-experience". An experience which gives a sudden insight.

    or one could say epiphany;

  • a moment of sudden revelation or insight.

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