pre·​hen·​sion prē-ˈhen(t)-shən How to pronounce prehension (audio)
: the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping
: mental understanding : comprehension
: apprehension by the senses

Did you know?

It's easy to grasp the origins of prehension—it descends from the Latin verb prehendere, which means "to seize" or "to grasp." Other descendants of prehendere in English include apprehend ("arrest, seize"), comprehend ("to grasp the nature or significance of"), prehensile ("adapted for seizing or grasping"), prison, reprise ("a repeated performance"), and reprisal ("a retaliatory act"). Even the English word get comes to us from the same ancient root that led to the Latin prehendere.

Examples of prehension in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Of these, the grasping, which will progressively disappear as voluntary prehension emerges around the age of 4–5 months, is of great interest. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 7 Oct. 2011 Prehension was seen as a key development for the USC/Belgrade Hand. Jose Fermoso, WIRED, 26 Sep. 2008

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prehension.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of prehension was circa 1828


Dictionary Entries Near prehension

Cite this Entry

“Prehension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


pre·​hen·​sion prē-ˈhen-chən How to pronounce prehension (audio)
: the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping

More from Merriam-Webster on prehension

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