pre·​hen·​sion | \ prē-ˈhen(t)-shən How to pronounce prehension (audio) \

Definition of prehension

1 : the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping
2a : mental understanding : comprehension
b : 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 Prehension was seen as a key development for the USC/Belgrade Hand. Jose Fermoso, WIRED, 26 Sep. 2008

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prehension.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of prehension

circa 1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Learn More About prehension

Time Traveler for prehension

Time Traveler

The first known use of prehension was circa 1828

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About prehension

Dictionary Entries Near prehension




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prehension

Cite this Entry

“Prehension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for prehension


pre·​hen·​sion | \ prē-ˈhen-chən How to pronounce prehension (audio) \

Medical Definition of prehension

: the act of taking hold, seizing, or grasping

More from Merriam-Webster on prehension

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prehension Encyclopedia article about prehension


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!