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See also: appréhension



Borrowed from Latin apprehensio, apprehensionis, compare with French appréhension. See apprehend.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /æp.ɹɪˈhɛn.ʃən/
  • (US) IPA(key): /æp.ɹiˈhɛn.ʃən/
  • (file)


apprehension (countable and uncountable, plural apprehensions)

  1. (rare) The physical act of seizing or taking hold of (something); seizing.
    • 2006, Phil Senter, "Comparison of Forelimb Function between Deinonychus and Babiraptor (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridea)", Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 26, no. 4 (Dec.), p. 905:
      The wing would have been a severe obstruction to apprehension of an object on the ground.
  2. (law) The act of seizing or taking by legal process; arrest.
    • 1855, Elizabeth Gaskell, chapter 37, in North and South:
      The warrant had been issued for his apprehension on the charge of rioting.
  3. perception; the act of understanding using one's intellect without affirming, denying, or passing any judgment
    • 1815, Percy Bysshe Shelley, "On Life," in A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays (1840 edition):
      We live on, and in living we lose the apprehension of life.
  4. Opinion; conception; sentiment; idea.
    • 1901, Kate Douglas Wiggin, chapter 8, in Penelope's English Experiences:
      We think we get a kind of vague apprehension of what London means from the top of a 'bus better than anywhere else.
  5. The faculty by which ideas are conceived or by which perceptions are grasped; understanding.
    • 1854, Charles Dickens, chapter 7, in Hard Times:
      Strangers of limited information and dull apprehension were sometimes observed not to know what a Powler was.
  6. Anticipation, mostly of things unfavorable; dread or fear at the prospect of some future ill.
    • 1846, Herman Melville, chapter 32, in Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life:
      Every circumstance which evinced the savage nature of the beings at whose mercy I was, augmented the fearful apprehensions that consumed me.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for apprehension in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

Usage notes[edit]

  • Apprehension springs from a sense of danger when somewhat remote, but approaching; alarm arises from danger when announced as near at hand. Apprehension is less agitated and more persistent; alarm is more agitated and transient.



Related terms[edit]



  • apprehension at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.