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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.
    • 1852 March – 1853 September, Charles Dickens, Bleak House, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1853, →OCLC:
      When he told us that a large reward was offered by Sir Leicester Dedlock for the murderer's apprehension, I did not in my first consternation understand why; []
  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, published 1840:
      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, especially of unfavorable things such as dread or fear or the prospect of something unpleasant in the future.
    • 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.

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]