AskDefine | Define apprehension

Dictionary Definition



1 fearful expectation or anticipation; "the student looked around the examination room with apprehension" [syn: apprehensiveness, dread]
2 the cognitive condition of someone who understands; "he has virtually no understanding of social cause and effect" [syn: understanding, discernment, savvy]
3 painful expectation [syn: misgiving]
4 the act of apprehending (especially apprehending a criminal); "the policeman on the beat got credit for the collar" [syn: arrest, catch, collar, pinch, taking into custody]

User Contributed Dictionary



From apprehensio, compare with French appréhension. See apprehend.


  • WEAE: /æ.pɹiˈhɛn.ʃən/


  1. 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. 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.




  • Dutch: grijpen,
act of grasping with the intellect
  • Dutch: begrip, begrijpen
  • Dutch: begrip, opinie, gezichtspunt, visie
faculty by which ideas are conceived
  • Dutch: begrip, verstand
distrust or fear at the prospect of future evil
  • Dutch: vrees, angst
  • Finnish: huoli, pelko


  • Webster 1828}}

Extensive Definition

Apprehension can refer to:

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

IQ, Pyrrhonism, abduction, agitation, alarm, all-overs, angst, anxiety, anxiety hysteria, anxiety neurosis, anxious bench, anxious concern, anxious seat, anxiousness, apprehensiveness, arrest, arrestation, arrestment, boding, bust, caliber, cankerworm of care, capacity, capture, care, catch, catching, clairvoyance, cliff-hanging, collaring, command, comprehension, conceit, concept, conception, conceptualization, concern, concernment, coup, deductive power, detention, diffidence, disquiet, disquietude, distress, distrust, distrustfulness, disturbance, doubt, doubtfulness, dragnet, dread, dubiety, dubiousness, esemplastic power, expectant waiting, faith, fancy, fear, forcible seizure, foreboding, forebodingness, foreknowledge, grab, grabbing, grasp, grip, half-belief, hold, idea, ideation, image, imago, impression, inquietude, integrative power, intellect, intellection, intellectual grasp, intellectual object, intellectual power, intellectualism, intellectuality, intelligence, intelligence quotient, kidnapping, knowledge, leeriness, malaise, mastery, memory-trace, mental age, mental capacity, mental grasp, mental image, mental impression, mental ratio, mentality, misdoubt, misgiving, mistrust, mistrustfulness, mother wit, nab, nabbing, native wit, nervous strain, nervous tension, nervousness, netting, notion, observation, opinion, overanxiety, panic, perception, perturbation, pessimism, picking up, pickup, pinch, pins and needles, possession, power grab, power of mind, precognition, prehension, premonition, prenotion, presage, presentiment, pucker, qualm, qualmishness, question, rationality, reasoning power, recept, reflection, reliance, representation, running in, sanity, savvy, scope of mind, scruple, scrupulousness, seizure, seizure of power, self-doubt, sense, sentiment, shadow of doubt, skepticalness, skepticism, snatch, snatching, solicitude, stew, strain, supposition, suspense, suspicion, suspiciousness, taking in, taking into custody, tension, theory, thinking power, thought, total skepticism, trouble, trust, uncertainty, understanding, unease, uneasiness, unquietness, upset, vexation, waiting, wariness, wisdom, wit, worry, zeal
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