ap·pre·hen·sion | \ ˌa-pri-ˈhen(t)-shən \

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

Until 2011, Central Americans represented less than 10% of all border apprehensions, while that number in 2014 was closer to 50%. Rory Taylor, Teen Vogue, "The Current Border Crisis Feels All Too Familiar for Indigenous Peoples in the United States," 12 July 2018 But across the seafood industry, there is apprehension that the pain will soon trickle down, cutting into sales and dropping prices. Scott Dance,, "After July Fourth crab feasts, an uncertain season for Maryland seafood industry," 6 July 2018 The Trans-Border Institute estimates that apprehensions at the Southwest border are on track to total about 380,000 by the end of the CBP's fiscal year in September. NBC News, "Number of migrants trying to cross border down 18% in June," 6 July 2018 Both companies told investors that fewer beds have gone unused as border apprehensions rise. Zusha Elinson, WSJ, "Trump’s Immigrant-Detention Plans Benefit Private Prison Operators," 2 July 2018 Border apprehensions in the first few months of 2017 were at almost unthinkably low levels. Dara Lind, Vox, "“Catch and release,” explained: the heart of Trump’s new border agenda," 9 Apr. 2018 Local police officers often coordinate with Border Patrol agents in the apprehension of undocumented immigrants near the border. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "A border crisis that doesn’t exist, and deterrence that won’t work," 18 June 2018 The Tucson Police Department, San Antonio Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service were able to assist in Cardenas' apprehension, Smith said. Nathan J. Fish, azcentral, "Police: Suspect in Glendale shootings arrested after fleeing to Texas," 13 July 2018 The K-9s and their handlers worked together for 13 weeks training in criminal apprehension and narcotic detection. Kayla Fitzgerald, sacbee, "Seven new CHP K-9 officers are top dogs at graduation ceremony," 28 June 2018

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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Last Updated

17 Sep 2018

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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


ap·pre·hen·sion | \ ˌa-pri-ˈhen-shən \

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 \

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).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

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