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

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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 There is also trepidation about his father, LaVar, whose controversial sound bites caused issues for LaMelo’s older brother, Lonzo, with the Lakers. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ NBA draft outlook: How would top prospects fit with Golden State?," 3 Jan. 2020 There's still a little trepidation about taking it on road trips. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford dealership gets 40 orders for Mustang Mach-E in one night," 2 Jan. 2020 Still, there was some trepidation inside the White House about Sondland's testimony, which dramatically undercut previous GOP claims while also implicating Vice President Mike Pence and others as aware of Trump's pressure campaign. Anchorage Daily News, "Sondland’s bombshell leaves Trump’s allies scrambling," 21 Nov. 2019 When Jim Piazza first reached out to Horras, there was trepidation on both sides. Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, "‘Hit them in their heart’: These parents lost kids to hazing. They’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.," 3 Nov. 2019 Still, given the Patriots know better than anyone where Thomas is physically, there had to be some trepidation in New York over making the deal., "Patriots trade Demaryius Thomas to Jets, report says - The Boston Globe," 11 Sep. 2019 In this case, as long as there is lottery protection, which is the case rolling through 2023, 2024 and 2025, there is little trepidation here. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Is One Last Dance 2.0 on the way?," 10 Aug. 2019 But for any team interested in signing Pierce after this season, there will be some trepidation about committing tens of millions of dollars to a high-production, low-volume defensive tackle. Jonas Shaffer,, "Ravens 2019 training camp preview: Defensive line," 20 July 2019 One reason is the trepidation about the actual electric vehicle. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Why Electric Buses Haven't Taken Over the World—Yet," 7 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for trepidation

Time Traveler

The first known use of trepidation was in 1605

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Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trepidation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for trepidation


How to pronounce trepidation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of trepidation

formal : 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.

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Comments on trepidation

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