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 Judgment day Rice attended the murder trial for the Bennett family in July with some trepidation. Arkansas Online, 9 Oct. 2021 The solution helped eliminate any sense of trepidation or unease on the part of employees, making business travel a bit less stressful. Michael Kure, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 With some trepidation, Dr. Marc Harrison took off his N95 face mask in a room of state officials, health experts and reporters. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Aug. 2021 Some of the firms, though, are returning with some trepidation. Jamie Goldberg, oregonlive, 4 June 2021 At Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School, masked students huddled with their families outside the school, many with looks of trepidation about the start of the year., 9 Sep. 2021 The basics of retirement funds, as one example of something people seem to feel a lot of trepidation about, are actually easy to grasp. Whizy Kim,, 18 Aug. 2021 His trepidation, however, was trumped by the highly transmissible delta variant first detected in India and now the dominant strain in Minnesota and the United States. Mary Lynn Smith, Star Tribune, 24 July 2021 Osaka’s initial muddled message on Twitter last week expressed her trepidation over doing press conferences but also attacked journalists and tournament organizers. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, 4 June 2021

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

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The first known use of trepidation was in 1605

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trepidation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of trepidation

: 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on trepidation

Nglish: Translation of trepidation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trepidation for Arabic Speakers


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