trep·​i·​da·​tion | \ ˌtre-pə-ˈdā-shən How to pronounce trepidation (audio) \

Definition of trepidation

1 : a nervous or fearful feeling of uncertain agitation : apprehension trepidation about starting a new job
2 archaic : a tremulous motion : tremor

Choose the Right Synonym for trepidation

fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, trepidation mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage. fear of the unknown dread usually adds the idea of intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety. faced the meeting with dread fright implies the shock of sudden, startling fear. fright at being awakened suddenly alarm suggests a sudden and intense awareness of immediate danger. view the situation with alarm panic implies unreasoning and overmastering fear causing hysterical activity. the news caused widespread panic terror implies the most extreme degree of fear. immobilized with terror trepidation adds to dread the implications of timidity, trembling, and hesitation. raised the subject with trepidation

Trepidation Has Latin Roots

If you've ever trembled with fright, you know something of both the sensation and etymology of trepidation. The word comes from the Latin verb trepidare, which means "to tremble." When it first appeared in English in the early 1600s, it meant "tremulous motion" or "tremor." Around the same time, English speakers also started using the "nervous agitation" sense of trepidation that we use today.

Examples of trepidation in a Sentence

In the first minutes, hours, or even days of fieldwork most researchers feel trepidation about being an outsider, a stranger on the scene … — Marie D. Price, Geographical Review, January-April 2001 This was an ambitious project, and a number of us felt some trepidation about the possible results. — Brian Phillips, New Republic, 13 Dec. 1999 I came aboard the 319 with trepidation, to join the lives of utter strangers, a man untried by the circumstances they had known. — Henry G. Bugbee, Jr., "Naval History," in Authors at Sea, Robert Shenk, ed.1997 He had some trepidation about agreeing to their proposal. shaking with trepidation, I stepped into the old abandoned house
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Recent Examples on the Web The announcements added to a growing sense of trepidation in the city, where tensions have been building for days as news filtered in of Tigrayan military advances. New York Times, 2 Nov. 2021 But the legislation has yet to be passed heading into the summit, and Kerry's office has been watching the negotiations play out with some trepidation. Natasha Bertrand And Ella Nilsen, CNN, 1 Nov. 2021 Meanwhile, the Bridges are looking to the future—with some trepidation. Damon Beres, Wired, 27 Oct. 2021 Georgia football may have been favored by 14½ points Saturday against rival Auburn, but trips to the Plains in the not-so-distant past were reason for trepidation for those prone to worry. Marc Weiszer, USA TODAY, 11 Oct. 2021 To those who want the former slugger to show some trepidation or at least frustration, sorry, wrong guy. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 9 Oct. 2021 Despite the initial trepidation, the season ultimately seemed to be a success — both in terms of letting the students play (thereby keeping revenues and spirits relatively high) and in terms of maintaining public health. Jason Wingard, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 You are encouraged to express yourself in the most sincere and passionate ways possible right now, so go ahead and be yourself without trepidation. Tarot Astrologers,, 21 Sep. 2021 Of course, after a shaky Week 1 performance that instilled much trepidation in Cowboys fans, Greg Zuerlein rose to the occasion and seized his moment of redemption Sunday afternoon in SoFI Stadium. Demetrio Teniente, Dallas News, 19 Sep. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trepidation.' 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 trepidation

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for trepidation

Latin trepidation-, trepidatio, from trepidare to tremble, from trepidus agitated; probably akin to Old English thrafian to urge, push, Greek trapein to press grapes

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The first known use of trepidation was in 1605

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Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trepidation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for trepidation



English Language Learners Definition of trepidation

: a feeling of fear that causes you to hesitate because you think something bad or unpleasant is going to happen


trep·​i·​da·​tion | \ ˌtre-pə-ˈdā-shən How to pronounce trepidation (audio) \

Kids Definition of trepidation

: a state of alarm or nervousness The boys approached the abandoned house with trepidation.

More from Merriam-Webster on trepidation

Nglish: Translation of trepidation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trepidation for Arabic Speakers


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