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[ap-ri-hend] /ˌæp rɪˈhɛnd/
verb (used with object)
to take into custody; arrest by legal warrant or authority:
The police apprehended the burglars.
to grasp the meaning of; understand, especially intuitively; perceive.
to expect with anxiety, suspicion, or fear; anticipate:
apprehending violence.
verb (used without object)
to understand.
to be apprehensive, suspicious, or fearful; fear.
Origin of apprehend
1350-1400; Middle English apprehenden < Latin apprehendere to grasp, equivalent to ap- ap-1 + prehendere to seize (pre- pre- + -hendere to grasp)
Related forms
apprehender, noun
reapprehend, verb
unapprehended, adjective
unapprehending, adjective
Can be confused
apprehend, comprehend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for apprehend


(transitive) to arrest and escort into custody; seize
to perceive or grasp mentally; understand
(transitive) to await with fear or anxiety; dread
Word Origin
C14: from Latin apprehendere to lay hold of
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for apprehend

mid-14c., "to grasp in the senses or mind," from Old French aprendre (12c.) "teach; learn; take, grasp; acquire," or directly from Latin apprehendere "to take hold of, grasp," from ad- "to" + prehendere "to seize" (see prehensile). Metaphoric extension to "seize with the mind" took place in Latin, and was the sole sense of cognate Old French aprendre (Modern French apprendre "to learn, to be informed about;" also cf. apprentice). Original sense returned in English in meaning "to seize in the name of the law, arrest," recorded from 1540s, which use probably was taken directly from Latin. Related: Apprehended; apprehending.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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