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

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

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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 In 2018, concern that giant wind turbines could disrupt flight training routes that are crucial to the county’s biggest employer began prompting apprehension all over Val Verde County and from Texas’ representatives in Washington. New York Times, "In a Widening News Desert on the Border, a Tabloid Start-Up Defies the Odds," 1 Jan. 2021 Gone said apprehension has amplified under the Trump Administration. Nora Mabie, USA TODAY, "Hit hard by COVID, some tribal members are hesitant to get a vaccine. Experts urge its importance.," 26 Dec. 2020 That sense of humiliation and apprehension in Tehran may complicate Biden’s efforts to calm tensions. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist raises the stakes for Biden," 30 Nov. 2020 Those involved will be placed on administrative leave while the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's bureau of criminal apprehension investigates the incident. Alta Spells, CNN, "Man shot and hospitalized when, police say, he ran toward them after hiding in a dumpster," 29 Nov. 2020 The officer, Damien Broschart, 29, of Howell, was charged with fourth-degree cyber harassment and third-degree hindering apprehension of oneself, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Thursday in a news release. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, "N.J. police officer accused of sexting woman hours after he arrested her," 30 Oct. 2020 His forecast was met with apprehension on the left. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Left Politicizes COVID: Irony Abounds," 19 Nov. 2020 Earth's evil interloper still was being referred to as the coronavirus in mid-March, and our apprehension was such that one positive test, by Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, basically shut down American sports. Star Tribune, "Which sports dealt best with the coronavirusvirus? Here are the grades," 7 Nov. 2020 The vast majority of family unit apprehensions and unaccompanied minor apprehension by CBP in FY2019 happened along the Texas border. Adam Brewster, CBS News, "Texas 2020 election results: Trump projected winner," 4 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for apprehension

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for apprehension

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Apprehension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for apprehension


How to pronounce apprehension (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of apprehension

: fear that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen : a feeling of being worried about the future
: the act of arresting someone for a crime
somewhat old-fashioned : the act of noticing and understanding something


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

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