1. an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing, especially through intuitive understanding: an insight into 18th-century life.
  2. penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.
  3. Psychology.
    1. an understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem.
    2. (in psychotherapy) the recognition of sources of emotional difficulty.
    3. an understanding of the motivational forces behind one’s actions, thoughts, or behavior; self-knowledge.


  1. the ability to perceive clearly or deeply; penetration
  2. a penetrating and often sudden understanding, as of a complex situation or problem
  3. psychol
    1. the capacity for understanding one’s own or another’s mental processes
    2. the immediate understanding of the significance of an event or action
  4. psychiatry the ability to understand one’s own problems, sometimes used to distinguish between psychotic and neurotic disorders

c.1200, innsihht, “sight with the eyes of the mind,” mental vision, understanding,” from in + sight. Sense shaded into “penetrating understanding into character or hidden nature” (1580s).


  1. Understanding, especially an understanding of the motives and reasons behind one’s actions.

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