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 Over the past half a year, apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border have plummeted. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "Some "Remain in Mexico" migrants will have to travel 340 miles for U.S. court hearings," 2 Jan. 2020 Arrivals peaked in May, with Yuma agents registering nearly 14,000 apprehensions. Maria Polletta, azcentral, "Sex scandals, wedding invitations, faulty prison locks. These are the 19 top Arizona stories of 2019," 22 Dec. 2019 Without making any direct allusion to the holidays, Bird’s lyrics and arrangements captured a range of feelings — apprehensions and ambitions, hopes and joys, surprises and disappointments — associated with the hectic time. Bob Gendron,, "Review: Andrew Bird is here for his annual, deep dive into the holiday season that isn’t a ‘Nutcracker’-like chestnut but is just as traditional," 10 Dec. 2019 The office identified an additional 1,369 children with potential family relationships that have not been accurately recorded by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency that conducts apprehensions at the border. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "Government Watchdog Found an Additional 1,300 Migrant Children Might Have Been Separated From Their Parents Due to 'Widespread Errors' in System," 27 Nov. 2019 His administration said Thursday that migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border had fallen for a fifth straight month. Nomaan Merchant, Twin Cities, "Tents, stench, smoke: Health risks are gripping migrant camp," 14 Nov. 2019 But with the unveiling of the piece in 1972 came heavy apprehension. Katherine Ormerod, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Secrets of Daring Women," 24 Oct. 2019 Hindering apprehension or obstructing an investigation is a third-degree felony. Elizabeth Zavala,, "Jury finds San Antonio mother guilty in county jail escape involving her son, 2 other men," 23 Oct. 2019 There will still be agitation and apprehension amongst the fans., "The Premier League Title Race Is Far From Over - There's Another 30 Games to Play," 8 Oct. 2019

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

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Apprehension.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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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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Comments on apprehension

What made you want to look up apprehension? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

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