Interpret and construe are close enough in meaning that if you look them up in the dictionary, you might see them defining each other! But that’s not to say that there aren’t differences between the two. Interpret is the more common verb and it primarily means “to explain” or “to provide the meaning of,” as in the case of someone who interprets a symbol or interprets the hidden meaning in a written passage. More loosely, to interpret something is to make sense of it. Construe implies a bit more subjectivity or variety of perspective. To construe something is to deduce its meaning by inference, or to understand something in a particular way, especially in a legal context. It is related to the verb construct by way of Latin construere “to put together, build.” While that etymological tidbit is unlikely to help you win trivia night, it is helpful in remembering how to use this word: when you construe something you are, in a way, putting together its meaning or significance.