Definition of apprehensive
1 : viewing the future with anxiety or alarm : feeling or showing fear or apprehension about the future … many adults who do not think twice about the risks of driving an automobile are apprehensive about flying. — Henry Petroski
2 : capable of understanding or quick to do so : discerning
3 : having awareness or knowledge of something : cognizant
Examples of apprehensive in a sentence
When the Crossroads Rhode Island social services agency switched to a 401(k) retirement plan from a pension last year, it added a feature that made some employees apprehensive. To ensure that as many employees as possible saved for retirement, the Providence nonprofit chose to automatically enroll all its workers into the 401(k) plan and deduct a minimum of 4 percent from their paychecks. —Andrew Caffrey, Boston Sunday Globe, 2 Oct. 2005
… Sargent, a shrewder character, was apprehensive about how the portrait would be viewed by the conventional crowds for whom a day out at the Salon was a social fixture in the Paris calendar. He was right. The public saw nothing lovely in this pallid, long- nosed woman with her prominent chin and superior smile. —Miranda Seymour, New York Times Book Review, 28 Sept. 2003
I arrived at my first Lamaze class the same way I showed up for my baby showers and ob-gyn appointments: a little excited, a little apprehensive, but mostly obediently, because it's what you're supposed to do when you're pregnant. —Paula Spencer, Parenting, April 1997
I'm fully apprehensive of the options, I assure you.
How has the meaning of apprehensive changed over time?
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.”
Origin and Etymology of apprehensive
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of apprehensive
APPREHENSIVE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of apprehensive for English Language Learners
: afraid that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen : feeling or showing fear or apprehension about the future
APPREHENSIVE Defined for Kids
Definition of apprehensive for Students
: fearful of what may be coming He was apprehensive about the surgery.
Seen and Heard
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