“Understood.” It was my last word last week, so it’s only fair that it be the first word this week.

“Understood.”

It was my last word last week, so it’s only fair that it be the first word this week.

It’s a good one, too, the past tense and past participle of “understand.” Of course, it doesn’t mean “to stand under,” as in, “Honest, dear, I only kissed that girl because she was understanding the mistletoe.”

No, that’s a misunderstanding, probably in more ways than one.

To “understand” is “to get or perceive the meaning of,” “interpret,” “learn,” “have a sympathetic rapport with” and so on.

It comes from the Old English “understanden,” which was literally “to stand among” — “hence observe,” “understand.”

So originally “standing” was involved, but now we can achieve understanding without being on our feet. It helps to be on our toes, though.

Here are a few more observations from the world of “under-,” not to be confused with the “underworld”:

“Underbrush” is basically the same thing as “brush” — “a thick growth of small trees and shrubs.” It also can be called “brushwood” and “undergrowth.” Clearly, it’s grown out of control.

We spend a bunch of money on our “underarms” in an effort to control hair, odor and perspiration in that area. The “underarm” is actually the “armpit,” which seems to be more under the shoulder than under the arm.

“Underarm” is also a throwing motion, also called “underhand.” Its opposite is “overhand”; “overarm” appears to be more of a swimming term.

“Underhand” is not the same as “underhanded,” which means “secret, sly, deceitful.” The latter also can be the same as “short-handed,” or not having enough help. But in such cases the context must make it clear which “underhanded” is intended.

There is also “underarmed,” meaning not having enough weapons. I didn’t see an “overarmed,” so apparently it’s not possible to have too many weapons — which is what some people say the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is all about.

You can’t have an “underpass” without an “overpass.” Which term you use probably depends on which one you’re on.

“Undersea” means “beneath the surface of the sea.” It’s actually “in” the sea, though. The same concept applies to “underwater.”

However, the “seabed” is under the sea.

To “undergo” is “to experience; endure; go through.” The experience can be positive, negative or neutral. But to “go under” is “to fail, as in business.”

Once upon a time, “undergo” also was a synonym for “undertake.”

To “undertake” is “enter into or upon (a task, journey, etc.)”; “to give a promise or pledge that”; “to promise, guarantee”; or “to make oneself responsible for.”

A person who does one of those things is an “undertaker.” That’s also a term for “funeral director,” although Webster’s calls it “a somewhat old-fashioned usage.”

I don’t think I’ll find a better last word this week than “undertaker.”

Contact Barry Wood at bwood@rrstar.com or read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/woodonwords/.