Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Fearful or uneasy anticipation of the future; dread.
  • n. The act of seizing or capturing; arrest.
  • n. The ability to apprehend or understand; understanding.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The physical act of seizing or taking hold of; seizure.
  • n. The act of seizing or taking by legal process; arrest.
  • n. The act of grasping with the intellect; the contemplation of things, without affirming, denying, or passing any judgment; intellection; perception.
  • n. Opinion; conception; sentiment; idea.
  • n. The faculty by which ideas are conceived or by which perceptions are grasped; understanding.
  • n. Anticipation, mostly of things unfavorable; dread or fear at the prospect of some future ill.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of seizing or taking hold of; seizure.
  • n. The act of seizing or taking by legal process; arrest.
  • n. The act of grasping with the intellect; the contemplation of things, without affirming, denying, or passing any judgment; intellection; perception.
  • n. Opinion; conception; sentiment; idea.
  • n. The faculty by which ideas are conceived; understanding.
  • n. Anticipation, mostly of things unfavorable; distrust or fear at the prospect of future evil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of seizing or taking hold of; prehension: as, the hand is the organ of apprehension.
  • n. The act of arresting or seizing by legal process; arrest; seizure: as, the thief, after his apprehension, escaped.
  • n. A laying hold by the mind; mental grasp; the act or faculty of perceiving anything by the senses;
  • n. of learning or becoming familiar with anything;
  • n. of forming an image in the imagination (the common meaning in English for three centuries, and the technical meaning in the Kantian theory of cognition);
  • n. of catching the meaning of anything said or written;
  • n. of simple apprehension (which see, below);
  • n. of attention to something present to the imagination.
  • n. Anticipation of adversity; dread or fear of coming evil; distrust of the future.
  • n. Alarm, Apprehension, Fright, etc. (see alarm), disquiet, dread, anxiety, misgiving, solicitude, nervousness, fearfulness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. painful expectation
  • n. fearful expectation or anticipation
  • n. the cognitive condition of someone who understands
  • n. the act of apprehending (especially apprehending a criminal)

Etymologies

Middle English apprehencioun, perception, from Old French apprehension, from Late Latin apprehēnsiō, apprehēnsiōn-, from Latin apprehēnsus, past participle of apprehendere, to seize; see apprehend.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin apprehensio, compare with French appréhension. See apprehend. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Here in the Persian Gulf, apprehension is off the charts.

    Matthew Yglesias » Predictions Are Hard, Especially About the Future

  • – If my apprehension is right and the bad effects of the law outweigh the good ...

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Major legal win for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus

  • He lifted and dropped his feet with the lithe softness of a cat, and from time to time glanced to right and to left as if in apprehension of some flank attack.

    CHAPTER XV

  • The person in charge of dealing with such complaints called me back a few days later and said that that small plane was probably part of law enforcement monitoring an apprehension from the air in the event of a pursuit.

    What's the buzz? (Jack Bog's Blog)

  • Vaccine apprehension is largely a luxury enjoyed by societies no longer ravaged by the dreadful diseases vaccines have helped prevent.

    David Katz, M.D.: What to Do About Flu? Get Vaccinated

  • The rest of the monkey orchestra merely shivered in apprehension of what next atrocity should be perpetrated.

    CHAPTER XXXI

  • Once, when the ketch, swerved by some vagrant current, came close to the break of the shore-surf, the blacks on board drew toward one another in apprehension akin to that of startled sheep in a fold when a wild woods marauder howls outside.

    CHAPTER X

  • But it does fill me with a certain apprehension and worry to be competing against people whom I find more respectable, more deserving of being nominated.

    oldcharliebrown's Journal

  • Whitman's extravagant verse, unrestrained by rhyme and meter, subject to startling exclamations and even made-up words, was met with considerable apprehension from the literary community, Emerson and his fellows at The Atlantic included.

    America's Bard

  • The more developed part of the world views with a certain apprehension the menacing growth - in number and in need - of those who have been referred to as the "peoples of hunger".

    The Papacy and the Challenge of the Modern World

Comments

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  • Why, do you think, that this word as a verb can mean to arrest, or to see clearly, yet as a noun, it means filled with dread. Is it that you are seized by paralysis, because you are so afraid, or that you are clearly aware of how forboding the environment is and thus become filled with trepidation? Or is it something else. The sources are very unforthcoming; they stay with the definition having started from 'to seize'. Anyone have any ideas?

    October 20, 2011