apprehend

verb

ap·​pre·​hend ˌa-pri-ˈhend How to pronounce apprehend (audio)
apprehended; apprehending; apprehends

transitive verb

1
: arrest, seize
apprehend a thief
2
a
: to become aware of : perceive
She immediately apprehended the problem.
b
: to anticipate especially with anxiety, dread, or fear
3
: to grasp with the understanding : recognize the meaning of

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Did you know?

To apprehend is to seize, either physically or mentally. So to apprehend a thief is to nab him. But to apprehend a confusing news story, or to apprehend a difficult concept in physics, is to understand it—that is, to "grasp" it mentally. If you're apprehensive about something that's about to happen, it means you've grasped all the unpleasant possibilities and are waiting with anxiety or dread.

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Example Sentences

Within hours, police had apprehended the thief. subtle differences that are difficult to apprehend
Recent Examples on the Web Between the traps: Jigsaw's widow (Betsy Russell) works with Internal Affairs officers to apprehend Hoffman. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 28 Sep. 2022 Terry and other agents were on extended deployment in the desert to apprehend robbery crews such as Favela-Astorga’s, the Justice Department said. José Ignacio Castañeda Perez, The Arizona Republic, 23 Sep. 2022 Carillo, the interior minister, vowed to apprehend Cáceres. Diana Durán, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2022 Waldner said the chase began around 10:50 p.m. Friday on the 2200 block of West National Avenue after officers attempted to apprehend the man wanted for a homicide. Drake Bentley, Journal Sentinel, 3 Sep. 2022 Despite the recent record levels of migrant arrests, there were more unlawful entries in the mid and early 2000s, when the U.S had fewer resources and personnel to apprehend border-crossers, according to government data obtained by CBS News. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 31 Aug. 2022 The city has installed license plate readers at 31 locations throughout Beachwood to help identify and apprehend vehicles involved in crimes. cleveland, 19 Aug. 2022 Police apprehend man wanted after wife killed, child injured in Shively shooting Kahlil Laghman and Mahamed Abdi Laghman, 18, and Abdi, 20, died after a double shooting May 14. Krista Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 5 Aug. 2022 Police were able to apprehend the man, who used the same knife to stab himself once officers approached him. Landon Mion, Fox News, 23 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apprehend.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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Word History

Etymology

Middle English, from Latin apprehendere, literally, to seize, from ad- + prehendere to seize — more at get

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of apprehend was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near apprehend

Cite this Entry

“Apprehend.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apprehend. Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

apprehend

verb

ap·​pre·​hend ˌa-pri-ˈhend How to pronounce apprehend (audio)
apprehended; apprehending
1
: arrest entry 1 sense 1
Police apprehended the burglar.
2
: to look forward to with fear and uncertainty
… there was no need of all this caution from the enemies that I apprehended danger from. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
3
: understand sense 1
apprehend the meaning

Legal Definition

apprehend

transitive verb

ap·​pre·​hend ˌa-prə-ˈhend How to pronounce apprehend (audio)
: arrest

History and Etymology for apprehend

Latin apprehendere to seize, arrest, from ad to + prehendere to seize

More from Merriam-Webster on apprehend

Last Updated: 1 Oct 2022

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