noun trep·i·da·tion \ ˌtre-pə-ˈdā-shən \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

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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Examples of trepidation in a Sentence

  1. 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. PriceGeographical ReviewJanuary-April 2001
  2. This was an ambitious project, and a number of us felt some trepidation about the possible results. —Brian PhillipsNew Republic13 Dec. 1999
  3. 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
  4. He had some trepidation about agreeing to their proposal.

  5. shaking with trepidation, I stepped into the old abandoned house

Recent Examples of trepidation from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of trepidation for English Language Learners

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

TREPIDATION Defined for Kids


noun trep·i·da·tion \ ˌtre-pə-ˈdā-shən \

Definition of trepidation for Students

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

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