Definition of apprehensive
- … many adults who do not think twice about the risks of driving an automobile are apprehensive about flying.
- —Henry Petroski
I'm fully apprehensive of the options, I assure you.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apprehensive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
When Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar “And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive,” he was not using the word apprehensive with the meaning which we so often encounter today (“viewing the future with anxiety or alarm”). The Bard was using the word’s older meaning of “capable of understanding or quick to do so” or “showing insight and understanding.” Apprehensive has shifted its meaning considerably in the seven hundred or so years it has been inhabiting our language. Its earliest meanings had to do with apprehension, to be sure, but it was apprehension meaning “the act of learning,” (a sense that is now obsolete) or “the act or faculty or grasping with the intellect.” The words apprehensive and apprehension both have roots in the Latin words prehendere meaning “to seize.”
What made you want to look up apprehensive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Confusing Words—A Quiz