AskDefine | Define apprehend

Dictionary Definition



1 get the meaning of something; "Do you comprehend the meaning of this letter?" [syn: get the picture, comprehend, savvy, dig, grasp, compass]
2 take into custody; "the police nabbed the suspected criminals" [syn: collar, nail, arrest, pick up, nab, cop]
3 anticipate with dread or anxiety [syn: quail at]

User Contributed Dictionary



From apprehender (French: appréhender), from apprehendere.


IPA: WEAE /æ.pɹiˈhɛnd/


  1. transitive Archaic To take or seize; to take hold of.
    We have two hands to apprehend it. --Jer. Taylor.
  2. Hence: To take or seize (a person) by legal process; to arrest; as, to apprehend a criminal.
  3. To take hold of with the understanding, that is, to conceive in the mind; to become cognizant of; to understand; to recognize; to consider.
    This suspicion of Earl Reimund, though at first but a buzz, soon got a sting in the king's head, and he violently apprehended it. --Fuller.
    The eternal laws, such as the heroic age apprehended them. --Gladstone.
  4. To anticipate; esp., to anticipate with anxiety, dread, or fear; to fear.
    The opposition had more reason than the king to apprehend violence. --Macaulay.
  5. To think, believe, or be of opinion; to understand; to suppose.
  6. To be apprehensive; to fear.
    It is worse to apprehend than to suffer. --Rowe.

Usage notes

To Apprehend, Comprehend. These words come into comparison as describing acts of the mind. Apprehend denotes the laying hold of a thing mentally, so as to understand it clearly, at least in part. Comprehend denotes the embracing or understanding it in all its compass and extent. We may apprehended many truths which we do not comprehend. The very idea of God supposes that he may be apprehended, though not comprehended, by rational beings. We may apprehended much of Shakespeare's aim and intention in the character of Hamlet or King Lear; but few will claim that they have comprehended all that is embraced in these characters. --Trench.(material dates from 1913)

Derived terms


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

absorb, accept, anticipate, appreciate, arrest, assimilate, be acquainted with, be afraid, be apprised of, be aware of, be cognizant of, be conscious of, be conversant with, be informed, be sensible of, be with one, bode, bust, capture, catch, catch on, cognize, collar, compass, comprehend, conceive, conceptualize, cotton to, croak, detain, dig, digest, discern, divine, dread, experience, eye askance, fathom, fear, feel, follow, forebode, foreknow, forewarn, get, get hold of, get the drift, get the idea, get the picture, grab, grasp, have, have a premonition, have a presentiment, have information about, have it taped, have knowledge of, have qualms, hear, ken, know, learn, look black, lower, make an arrest, make out, master, menace, misgive, nab, net, penetrate, perceive, pick up, pinch, portend, possess, preapprehend, prehend, prevision, pull in, put under arrest, read, realize, recognize, respond, respond to stimuli, run in, savvy, see, seize, seize the meaning, sense, sit upon thorns, smell, stand aghast, take, take captive, take in, take into custody, take prisoner, taste, threaten, touch, tumble to, twig, understand, visualize, warn, wot, wot of
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