1 a : the act or power of perceiving or comprehending
b : the result of apprehending mentally : conception
2 : seizure by legal process : arrest
3 : suspicion or fear especially of future evil : foreboding
Did You Know?
The Latin verb prehendere really grabs our attention. It means "to grasp" or "to seize," and it is an ancestor of various English words. It teamed up with the prefix ad- (which takes the form ap- before p and means "to," "toward," or "near") to form apprehendere, the Latin predecessor of our words apprehension, apprehend, and apprehensive. When prehendere joined the prefix com- ("with," "together," "jointly"), Latin got comprehendere, and English eventually got comprehend, comprehension, and comprehensive. Prehendere also gave us the words comprise, prehensile ("adapted for seizing or grasping"), prison, reprehend, and reprise, among others.
"Oddly combined with her sharp apprehension … was the primitive simplicity of her attitude…." - Edith Wharton, The Reef, 1912
"Rife with memories of lessons learned and laughter shared and full of hopeful apprehension facing uncertain futures in a big, brave new world, 241 seniors graduated from Princeton Senior High School Friday evening." - Tammie Toler, Princeton (West Virginia) Times, June 5, 2015
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to create a word that traces back to Latin prehendere ("to seize") and that means "neglect of official duty" or "misunderstanding": m _ _ pr _ _i _ n. The answer is …
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