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

Having never owned human remains before, Scragg unpacked the delivery with some trepidation. Oscar Schwartz, WIRED, "There’s a Thriving Market for Human Body Parts on Instagram," 21 Aug. 2019 The kingdom hasn’t set a date for its forum, but journalists have already begun expressing trepidation about the fate that could befall its attendees. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, "A year after a journalist’s assassination, Saudi Arabia announces media forum to ‘boost’ reputation," 30 July 2019 Like any mother, Karin Baxter watched with a little trepidation as her sons Adam and Jacob played high school football for Severna Park and college lacrosse — the former at Towson and the latter at Maryland. Edward Lee,, "Former Towson lacrosse player Adam Baxter to make boxing debut with Haymakers for Hope to ‘knock out cancer’," 16 Sep. 2019 When artists who have been successful supporting players step into the spotlight for the first time, the act carries with it both excitement and trepidation.... Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Blood’ by Kelsey Lu Review: Pulsing With the Personal," 16 Apr. 2019 Users may have trepidation about how their personal data might be compromised based on security breaches reported over the last year. Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Dodgers games on YouTube give fans what Big Cable won’t," 11 Aug. 2019 At first the apes approached the drum with trepidation, but once the researchers and zoo staff started demonstrating, the bonobos were rapt. Quanta Magazine, "The Beasts That Keep the Beat," 22 Mar. 2016 At the same time, insiders at Anonymous express trepidation about its future in the wake of the April death of founder Steve Golin and believe Jobs is poised to assert more control. Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "For Hollywood Talent Managers, Outside Investors Bring Issues of Control," 31 July 2019 The change may be met with trepidation, excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty. Caryn M. Sullivan, Twin Cities, "Caryn Sullivan: Mental illness: Breaking the silence and making a plan," 9 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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Statistics for trepidation

Last Updated

4 Oct 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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Comments on trepidation

What made you want to look up trepidation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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