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Apprehension can refer to:


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also appréhension




From Latin apprehensio, compare with French appréhension. See apprehend.



  • (UK) IPA: /æp.rɪˈhɛn.ʃən/, SAMPA: /{p.rI"hEn.S@n/
  • (WEAE) IPA: /æ.pɹiˈhɛn.ʃən/, SAMPA: /{.pri"hEn.S@n/




apprehension (plural apprehensions)

  1. (rare) The physical act of seizing or taking hold of; seizure.
    • 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, North and South, ch. 37,
      The warrant had been issued for his apprehension on the charge of rioting.
  3. The act of grasping with the intellect; the contemplation of things, without affirming, denying, or passing any judgment; intellection; perception.
    • 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, Penelope's English Experiences, ch. 8,
      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; understanding.
    • 1854, Charles Dickens, Hard Times, ch. 7,
      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, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, ch. 32,
      Every circumstance which evinced the savage nature of the beings at whose mercy I was, augmented the fearful apprehensions that consumed me.

Usage notes

  • 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.





  • apprehension” in An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, 1828.
  • apprehension in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • apprehension” in Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • "apprehension" in Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation.
  • "apprehension {anxiety}" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press 2007.
  • "apprehension (catching)" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press 2007.
  • "apprehension (understanding)" in Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press 2007.
  • "apprehension" in Compact Oxford English Dictionary, © Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.


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