I'm looking for a word meaning "to understand deeply".

Profound is the word I want to express. However, profound can only be used as an adjective. I'm looking for a verb form.


Susan _____ her sister's troubles.

  • 1
    Is this understanding a person or a concept? If you understand a concept, a good verb may be "comprehend."
    – rajah9
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:54
  • 1
    Can you add a sample sentence to your question with a blank where the word should be? Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 19:21
  • Profound just means deep.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 21:51

8 Answers 8



The word that comes to mind is grok. This term originally comes from Robert Heinlein’s 1961 science-fiction novel A Stranger in a Strange Land, but it has since entered the popular culture, and Merriam-Webster defines it as “to understand profoundly and intuitively”.

  • 4
    +1 because it perfectly matches in the communities it's known in, though it's definitely a slang sense and not much used outside of some tech, sci-fi, US Pagan and GB comic-book fandom communities (the first three pretty directly from Heinlein, the comic-book fans as much from Judge Dredd as from the original source).
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 0:04
  • @JonHanna Here’s a citation for grok from Eric S. Raymond’s New Hacker’s Dictionary (né the Jargon File). This shows how hackers use it, or at least, how the hacker community were using it more than two decades ago now when ESR wrote that entry, which was long before the 1996 publication of that tome.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 16:48
  • While I'm the first to appreciate slang, and geeky terms, I feel duty bound to warn nonnative speakers that this does not fit the OP's example sentence. Susan grokked her sister's problem is wholly inappropriate, and should never be used in a formal context.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 17:59
  • @tchrist the jargon file as of the time Guy Steele et al. published it as "The Hackers' Dictionary" (though it of course existed as a live document in MIT-AI for a long time before that) had just: "GROK [from the novel 'Stranger in a Strange Land', by Robert Heinlein, where it is a Martian word meaning roughly "to be one with"] v. To understand, usually in a global sense.", so as a jargon file entry it precedes ESR though he added to it.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 19:12

To grasp.

Comprehend fully:
‘the press failed to grasp the significance of what had happened’



One option is to use a metaphor of depth:

Sally had fathomed the plot.

The professor had spent twenty years penetrating the arcana of Phoenician religion.

We got to the bottom of it.

Metaphors for 'absorbing' or 'eating' could work, too:

I absorbed the course material.

Wendy has assimilated the entire book.

He digested the pamphlet.

They took it all in.

  • 1
    Grok, also given as an answer here is an example of the latter, since in the source story it's literal meaning is "drink".
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 1:12

If it is a concept that is being understood, then comprehend may work.

to grasp the nature, significance, or meaning of. Ex: "unable to comprehend what has happened"

Usage: "After years of study, he managed to comprehend quantum physics. His wife, not so much."


How about fathom or assimilate?


fathom: Understand (a difficult problem or an enigmatic person) after much thought

assimilate: Take in and understand fully (information or ideas)


A word which neatly fits in the example sentence is appreciate.

Susan appreciates her sister's troubles.


appreciate VERB


2 Understand (a situation) fully; grasp the full implications of:
‘they failed to appreciate the pressure he was under’


I found out the word I was looking for. The ward was "contemplate"!!!

  • You've self answered a question with a word that in no way fits the sense of the question as asked. Please be more careful in future to ask what you mean to ask. We also ask you when answering, to provide an authoritative reference and definition to single word requests. Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 19:43

While the above answers must satisfy your need (alongwith the list of synonyms ) on a slightly different note (as a suggestion) consider imbibe also.

2 a: to receive into the mind and retain
b : to assimilate or take into solution

Susan imbibes her sister's troubles.

Also from Wikitionary:

  1. (figuratively) To take in; absorb to imbibe knowledge

Oxford Dictionary:

Absorb or assimilate (ideas or knowledge)
Dictionary.com: to take or receive into the mind, as knowledge, ideas, or the like:
-to imbibe a sermon;
-to imbibe beautiful scenery.

I think if one 'absorbs or assimilates the idea' they must also 'deeply understand it.' Just thought you might want to consider.

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