ap·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌa-pri-ˈhen(t)-shən How to pronounce apprehension (audio) \

Essential Meaning of apprehension

1 : fear that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen : a feeling of being worried about the future The thought of moving to a new city fills me with apprehension. There is growing apprehension [=fear] that profits will be lower than expected. He has apprehensions [=misgivings] about the surgery.
2 : the act of arresting someone for a crime the sheriff's apprehension of the criminal = the criminal's apprehension by the sheriff an increased number of apprehensions
3 somewhat old-fashioned : the act of noticing and understanding something the apprehension [=perception] of danger

Full Definition of apprehension

1 : suspicion or fear especially of future evil : foreboding an atmosphere of nervous apprehension
2 : seizure by legal process : arrest apprehension of a criminal
3a : the act or power of perceiving or comprehending something a person of dull apprehension
b : the result of apprehending something mentally : conception according to popular apprehension

Synonyms for apprehension


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Latin Helps Build Apprehension

The Latin verb prehendere really grabs our attention. It means "to grasp" or "to seize," and it is an ancestor of various English words. It teamed up with the prefix ad- (which takes the form ap- before p and means "to," "toward," or "near") to form apprehendere, the Latin predecessor of our words apprehension, apprehend, and apprehensive. When prehendere joined the prefix com- ("with," "together," "jointly"), Latin got comprehendere, and English eventually got comprehend, comprehension, and comprehensive. Prehendere also gave us the words comprise, prehensile ("adapted for seizing or grasping"), prison, reprehend, and reprise, among others.

Examples of apprehension in a Sentence

The thought of moving to a new city fills me with apprehension. an increased number of apprehensions
Recent Examples on the Web Also on Wednesday, Gary Mayor Jerome Prince issued a statement thanking the homicide squad, made up of Gary and Lake County officers, for their effort in Dodd’s apprehension. Carole Carlson,, 20 Jan. 2022 Nearly everyone has heard the phrase Mercury retrograde and cringed in apprehension. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Jan. 2022 There are a lot of people out there like me that have this appetite to invest, but there’s also this apprehension because of a lack of exposure or confidence, which comes from a lack of access to information. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 11 Nov. 2021 Chutkan said much of the Supreme Court apprehension in the 2020 document dispute would not apply to the current controversy because of Biden's position. Joan Biskupic, CNN, 11 Nov. 2021 There is concern about credibility (absence of greenwashing), accountability, transparency, and the apprehension that leadership and members walk the talk with every initiative. Frank Van Gansbeke, Forbes, 4 Nov. 2021 Speaking to studio publicists, many share the same apprehension on submitting their films and talent for Globes consideration. Clayton Davis, Variety, 20 Oct. 2021 The fact that this occurred amidst a global pandemic heightened the apprehension. Chris Smith, BGR, 8 Oct. 2021 What does run throughout public sentiment, though, is that wider apprehension about the state of democracy, and that measure may be the most important of all to watch. Anthony Salvanto, Kabir Khanna, CBS News, 2 Jan. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apprehension.' 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 apprehension

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

History and Etymology for apprehension

Middle English, from Late Latin apprehension-, apprehensio, from Latin apprehendere — see apprehend

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The first known use of apprehension was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

24 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apprehension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for apprehension


ap·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌa-pri-ˈhen-shən How to pronounce apprehension (audio) \

Kids Definition of apprehension

2 : fear of or uncertainty about what may be coming They approached the old house with apprehension.
3 : an understanding of something apprehension of the poem's message


ap·​pre·​hen·​sion | \ ˌa-pri-ˈhen-chən How to pronounce apprehension (audio) \

Legal Definition of apprehension

: arrest

More from Merriam-Webster on apprehension

Nglish: Translation of apprehension for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of apprehension for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about apprehension


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