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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Synonyms for apprehension


alarm (also alarum), apprehensiveness, dread, foreboding, misgiving

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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

News of an arrest can travel quickly among the community and advocates; a report of one or two apprehensions can transform into a rumor about large-scale raids. Eric Heisig,, "Advocates for Ohio’s Hispanic community rally against Trump’s immigration policies at Cleveland’s FREE Stamp," 22 July 2019 Her partner Bane is a dual-purpose dog that does both protection (apprehension with his mouth) and scent work such as narcotic detection and tracking. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "St. Francis' famous police dog Bane recently underwent surgery to remove an unidentified growth," 17 July 2019 Fischl’s pictures make palpable the interpersonal tension turning otherwise beautifully luxurious settings into disquieting dramas suffused with apprehension, insecurity and dread. David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Forget sexy. Eric Fischl paints the dark dramas amid all that skin," 16 July 2019 European manufacturers such as Ericsson AB and Nokia Corp. are also watching the U.S. deliberations with apprehension, since both have major operations in China. Stu Woo, WSJ, "Rural U.S. Carriers Resist Proposed Chinese Telecom Ban Aimed at Huawei," 11 Feb. 2019 Already viewed with apprehension, reality turned out to be worse. Raf Casert, The Seattle Times, "EU, US relations sinking further after divisive Trump tour," 17 July 2018 While some parents initially had apprehension about the early dismissal the students adjusted quickly, said Summerwood resident Rachal Rodriguez. Chris Shelton, Houston Chronicle, "College-style schedule yields positive results at Summer Creek," 31 July 2019 Among the arrests included in the show will be the March apprehension of fugitive Bradford Houser in Morgan County. Leada Gore |,, "‘Dog’s Most Wanted’ trailer released; new series will show Alabama arrest," 23 July 2019 The moment brought a sense of pride and some apprehension about what Ms. Harris’s campaign would hold. Stephanie Saul, New York Times, "Riding the Post-Debate Buzz With Kamala Harris’s Sorority Sisters," 1 July 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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Statistics for apprehension

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for apprehension

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

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More Definitions for apprehension



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

: arrest

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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).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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