I can’t say as I’ve ever understood why, when we comprehend something, we stand under it. So this week we’re working to understand the word understand. 😀
According to the wonderful world of www.etymonline.com, this word, which has been
in the English language pretty much since the English language has
been, carries an old sense of “standing in the midst of.” And if you’re in the midst of it, you get it.
Now, the “under” is the tricky part. Etymonline quotes a few different expert opinions on why it’s
“under.” They all agree it isn’t “under” as in beneath, but
rather as in “between, among.” Take, as a modern-day idiom that has
survived with this meaning, the example “Under such circumstances.” We don’t mean we’re literally under these circumstances, but rather in the midst of them.
Some other Germanic languages
have a word that means “stand before” rather than “stand under,” but
ultimately the idea comes back to truly comprehending something when
you’re very near it.
Understand? 😉