apprehend

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

Definition of apprehend

transitive verb

1 : arrest, seize apprehend a thief
2a : 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.

Examples of apprehend in a Sentence

Within hours, police had apprehended the thief. subtle differences that are difficult to apprehend

Recent Examples on the Web

In fiscal year 2017, about 25,000 people were apprehended in Border Patrol’s El Paso sector, down from 122,000-plus in fiscal year 2006. Will Weissert, The Seattle Times, "El Paso bristles at Trump’s claim that wall made city safe," 11 Feb. 2019 Phillips was apprehended two days after Michael Carleton, 32, of Mattapan, was arrested in the area of 90 Woodbole St. Carleton pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail. Adam Sennott, BostonGlobe.com, "Police make second arrest in fatal July 4th shooting in Dorchester," 13 July 2018 From March to May, more than 50,000 migrants were apprehended each month, infuriating a president who campaigned on securing the border. Maria Sacchetti, Washington Post, "HHS secretary says Trump administration rushing to reunite migrant families separated at the border," 5 July 2018 In 1986, one of the busiest years on record, more than 1.6 million people were apprehended at the border. David Yaffe-bellany, star-telegram, "For Texas ranchers living along border fence, talk of an illegal crossing crisis is exaggerated," 1 July 2018 Many more undocumented adults are apprehended at the border, picked up after traffic stops or for committing a crime or simply swept up in raids across the country, which have grown more frequent since Trump took office. Alex Leary And Steve Bousquet, miamiherald, "Who's holding immigrants in Florida? Private vendors, feds and county sheriffs, too.," 29 June 2018 The suspect was apprehended and charged with five counts of first-degree murder. refinery29.com, "These Are The Victims Of The Capital Gazette Newsroom Shooting," 29 June 2018 Since then, 484 fugitives have been apprehended or located. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan murder suspect is on FBI's 10 most wanted list," 27 June 2018 The subject was apprehended at the entrance and the property was recovered. Sun-Sentinel.com, "Plantation, Sunrise area crime reports," 27 June 2018

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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First Known Use of apprehend

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

History and Etymology for apprehend

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

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Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for apprehend

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

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More Definitions for apprehend

apprehend

verb

English Language Learners Definition of apprehend

formal
of police : to arrest (someone) for a crime : to catch (a criminal or suspect)
somewhat old-fashioned : to notice and understand (something)

apprehend

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

Kids Definition of apprehend

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

apprehend

transitive verb
ap·​pre·​hend | \ ˌa-prə-ˈhend How to pronounce apprehend (audio) \

Legal Definition of apprehend

: arrest

History and Etymology for apprehend

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

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