Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To adduce or explain the meaning of; interpret: construed my smile as assent. See Synonyms at explain.
  • transitive v. Grammar To analyze the structure of (a clause or sentence).
  • transitive v. Grammar To use syntactically: The noun fish can be construed as singular or plural.
  • transitive v. To translate, especially aloud.
  • intransitive v. To analyze grammatical structure.
  • intransitive v. To be subject to grammatical analysis.
  • n. An interpretation or translation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A translation.
  • n. An interpretation.
  • v. To interpret or explain the meaning of something.
  • v. To analyze the grammatical structure of a clause or sentence.
  • v. To translate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To apply the rules of syntax to (a sentence or clause) so as to exhibit the structure, arrangement, or connection of, or to discover the sense; to explain the construction of; to interpret; to translate.
  • transitive v. To put a construction upon; to explain the sense or intention of; to interpret; to understand.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To arrange the words of in their natural order; reduce the words of from a transposed to a natural order, so as to demonstrate the sense; hence, interpret, and, when applied to a foreign language, translate: as, to construe a sentence; to construe Greek, Latin, or French.
  • Hence To interpret; explain; show or understand the meaning of; render.
  • Synonyms Interpret, Render, etc. (see translate). Construe, Construct. “To construe means to interpret, to show the meaning; to construct means to build: we may construe a sentence, as in translation, or construct it, as in composition.”
  • To yield to or admit of grammatical analysis or interpretation: as, a sentence that will not construe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make sense of; assign a meaning to

Etymologies

Middle English construen, from Late Latin cōnstruere, from Latin, to build; see construct.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Late Latin construo ("to relate grammatically"), from Latin construo ("pile together") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "no prudent person will deny that there is need of many supplements and explanations from other writings" than the Bible, to the end, namely, that a person may construe from the German Bibles the true Catholic faith.

    Luther Examined and Reexamined A Review of Catholic Criticism and a Plea for Revaluation

  • [Footnote 1: The vulgar pronunciation of the word construe is here intended.

    The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume 2

  • As I've explained, the Administration bill would purport to "construe" Common Article 3 of Geneva to prohibit only what the McCain Amendment prohibits (and to cut off any judicial review that might overturn that implausible interpretation of Common Article 3).

    Balkinization

  • Yet in his statement Bush said he will "construe" an exception, "which provides for opening of an item of a class of mail otherwise sealed against inspection in a manner consistent ... with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances."

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • In other words, Congress can go fly a kite as far as trying to control him in matters of National Defense, because he can "construe" the laws anyway he chooses, even construe them as null and void.

    Presidential Authority (Executive Authority) Is Always Outranked By Duly-Enacted Laws Passed By Congress

  • If you believe that Israel is a legitimate state, then you will "construe" any article that treats it as legitimate as "pro-Israeli."

    By Any Means Necessary

  • Besides the idiocy of thinking that an Amendment that directs a Court to "construe" something a certain way would actually work, it suffers the additional problem that it has NO POLITICAL APPEAL whatsoever.

    Libertarian Blog Place

  • I'm not convinced that amendments directing Courts to "construe" words are productive, nor do I believe that defining words in the Constitution will work since the Court already disregards plain meaning of words for its own ends.

    Libertarian Blog Place

  • Looking to context, if you mean "construe", I gather that you (and many other progressives) are not a fan of this "four corners" concept?

    WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

  • When Bush used to announce in signing statements that he would violate the very law he was signing into law, he would typically say that he would "construe" section such-and-such "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority as Commander in Chief," or with his duty "to supervise the unitary executive branch."

    Pacific Free Press - Hard Truths for Hard Times - Progressive opinion, dissident news

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