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

Other pollinators aren’t as common, and while not many people know their names, most inspire some trepidation when they are discovered buzzing around the doorstep. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Bee kind to Alaska’s pollinators (but it’s OK to smack a wasp)," 26 June 2019 Former peers and instructors remembered O’Sullivan as a hard worker with an infectious smile, who overcame trepidation about her abilities to become the student commander of her cohort. Alexei Koseff,, "‘She was a hero’: Sacramento cop grew up in Bay Area, achieved dream before slaying," 20 June 2019 Nicks offered women a blueprint for success, telling them her trepidation in first recording a solo album while a member of Fleetwood Mac and encouraging others to match her feat. David Bauder, The Seattle Times, "Jackson, Nicks enter hall with encouragement for women," 31 Mar. 2019 Others are elaborately staged, as in the photo from 2011—a time of many transitions in their lives, Wang told me—where the two appear to be flying through a cartoonish rainstorm, looking ahead with trepidation and holding each other for safety. Andrea Denhoed, The New Yorker, "A Photographer’s Vision of Being a Mother and an Artist, Year After Year," 5 June 2019 Just look at the trepidation with which the dog above is observing this flying piece of metal and plastic above him. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Should You Use a Drone to Walk Your Dog?," 29 Mar. 2019 Records from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which conducts child protective investigations in the county, provide more details about the guardian's trepidation. Fox News, "Details of Florida boy's short, troubled life emerge," 7 Sep. 2018 Inside the White House, officials were watching the hearing with some trepidation, aware of the stakes. Natalie Andrews, WSJ, "Stark Divide, Raw Emotion in Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing," 27 Sep. 2018 There is no denying that there is a potent mix of excitement and trepidation at the thought of traveling abroad with a toddler. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Trans-Atlantic Travel is Better Than Ever with a Bebé," 28 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for trepidation

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for trepidation

The first known use of trepidation was in 1605

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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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