Comprehensive Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

You may have heard the word comprehensive before, but do you know what it means? Read on for our guide on the meaning of comprehensive.  

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From the insurance industry to British English, there’s no denying that the word “comprehensive” is used frequently. That said, what exactly does it mean? We’ll tell you. 

This article explores the term comprehensive to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more. If you’ve ever wondered about the word comprehensive — keep reading. Here’s our “comprehensive” guide on the word comprehensive. 

What Is the Definition of Comprehensive?

Not to be confused with comprehensible (meaning intelligible), comprehensive can be defined as covering completely or broadly. In other words, it means inclusive. 

Comprehensive also plays host to a few collocations as well. Collocations refer to words that are closely affiliated with one another. In the insurance world, comprehensive has different collocations: coverage, insurance, and policy.

  • When you have a comprehensive policy, that policy covers damages that may have happened to the policyholder’s car that was not the result of theft or a collision with another vehicle.
  • A comprehensive insurance policy is an insurance policy that provides one with protection against almost all risks, including fire, third-party damage, liability, and theft. 
  • If you were to say you had comprehensive coverage, you would be referencing the fact that you are protected against damage to your vehicle from other events not usually associated with operating said vehicle — for instance, acts of nature.

Cognates of Comprehensive

It has likely been a few years since grade school, and a few of us may have forgotten about the term cognate. A cognate is when a word sounds like, looks like, and holds the same definition or a similar meaning across various languages.

Cognates can be rich points for discovering word origins in addition to connective meanings and often provides an entryway into another language. 

In other words, cognates can be a helpful tool!

With that in mind, some of the most common cognates of the term comprehensive include:

  • Brazilian Portuguese — abrangente
  • Danish — omfattende
  • European Spanish — exhaustivo
  • Japanese — 総合的な
  • Romanian — amplu
  • European Portuguese — abrangente
  • Vietnamese — toàn diện
  • Spanish — exhaustivo
  • Italian — completo
  • German — umfassend
  • French — exhaustif or complet
  • Finnish — kattava

What Is the Origin of Comprehensive?

The origin or etymology of the adjective as it is defined today begins in the 1610s, deriving from the French comprehénsif. Comprehensive is a past participle of comprehendere from the Late Latin comprehēnsīvus or comprehensivus

It should be further noted that comprehensive is the source of the American English, “comprehend.”

What Are the Synonyms of Comprehensive?

Below are synonyms of comprehensive provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • All-inclusive
  • Broad
  • Complete
  • Exhaustive
  • Extensive
  • Across the board
  • General
  • Whole
  • Far-reaching
  • Full
  • Encyclopedic
  • All-embracing
  • Umbrella
  • Compendious
  • Blanket
  • Cover-all
  • Absolute

What Are the Antonyms of Comprehensive?

Below are antonyms of comprehensive also provided by Power Thesaurus:

  • Empty
  • Incomplete
  • Narrow
  • Needy
  • Particular
  • Specific
  • Precise
  • Incomplete
  • Selective
  • Definite
  • Hit-or-miss
  • Aimless
  • Limited
  • Short
  • Restricted
  • Incomprehension
  • Inability 
  • Misunderstanding

What Are Examples of Comprehensive in a Sentence?

Let’s now test out our newfound knowledge on the definition of comprehensive and see how often we can use our word of the day in a sentence. For those that are still a little uneasy or could use some assistance, we have included a list of example sentences below:

Brighton was attempting to hide the fact that he was from the U.K. but when he started talking about his comprehensive school, it was a dead giveaway.

If you ask me, a comprehensive education is best.

The training is extremely comprehensive and will take place over 21 days in April.

It took her several years to write a comprehensive history of country music.

To get an A on my report card, I spent hours putting together a comprehensive book report covering every work of literature I read in the last five years.

As I drew closer and closer to compiling a comprehensive list of the different car insurance offered to me, I became increasingly uneasy deciding. 

In the report, you’ll find a comprehensive study of the company’s training needs.

I do not understand why you are so worried our new outlet had the most comprehensive story coverage. There is no way we will lose in the ratings battle today! 

The comprehensive survey of world affairs me almost an entire hour to complete!

Although the word comprehensive is commonly used as an adjective, it can also be used as an adverb.

I felt like I had a pretty comprehensive grasp of the subject, but I still failed.

The comprehensive examination will be held Tuesday morning in homeroom.

To help you get around the park with ease, we suggest taking one of our free comprehensive guides or maps.

Bottom Line

So if you’re looking to describe anything that covers a large scope or includes all or most details, feel free to use the word comprehensive as it can be defined as inclusive. 

Including everything or almost everything, comprehensive simply means complete or wide in range and can be used as both an adjective and a noun.  


  1. Comprehensive definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  2. Comprehensive synonyms Words and Phrases for Comprehensive | Power Thesaurus
  3. COMPREHENSIVE definition | The Cambridge English Dictionary
  4. Comprehensive Definition & Meaning |