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 While a certain amount of trepidation is perfectly understandable, rest assured that any vaccine that passes through Health Canada’s seriously anal protocols is not going to result in any of the above scenarios. Courtney Shea,, "When Can I Get My COVID-19 Vaccine? (No, Seriously, Whennnnnn?)," 11 Dec. 2020 Foreign observers are watching with trepidation — and at times disbelief — as coronavirus cases surge across the United States, and scores of Americans are choosing to follow through with Thanksgiving plans. Washington Post, "Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, while cities and counties set records for coronavirus infections," 26 Nov. 2020 Workers who were slated to lose their jobs in January expressed immediate relief mingled with future trepidation at the news. Mallory Moench,, "Golden Gate Transit workers spared from layoffs for now in anticipation of coronavirus relief funds," 23 Dec. 2020 Still, three board members voted against the memorandum and several people testified ahead of the vote, expressing trepidation that the move is locking the district into a plan during an unpredictable and rapidly changing public health crisis. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage School Board makes it harder for superintendent to pause school reopening plans," 16 Dec. 2020 While Baghdad has agreed to take back the terrorist-connected, it has been met with trepidation from locals and minority communities – including Christians and Yazidis – who fear reprisal of oppression and violence. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "ISIS sleeper cell attacks in Syria reach record low, data shows," 15 Dec. 2020 But not with the trepidation of Eddard Stark or Jon Snow. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Winter provides an opportunity for Aaron Rodgers, Packers to catch fire," 5 Dec. 2020 Since job openings are a forward-looking metric, economists are looking ahead with some trepidation to the December jobs report, which will be released just after the new year. NBC News, "U.S. economy gains just 245,000 jobs in final report of 2020 as recovery stalls with Covid surging," 4 Dec. 2020 There is the tech dilemma and then the trepidation that comes with sitting through a meal in front of a computer screen. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "The Dos and Don’ts of Hosting a Virtual Party," 21 Nov. 2020

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

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trepidation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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