To apprehend is to capture or arrest, as when the police try to apprehend criminals and bring them to justice. You also apprehend a concept when you understand it, grasping or capturing its meaning.

The verb apprehend has remained much the same since the original Latin, both in form and meaning. It comes from apprehendere, "to grasp or seize." The word came to refer to learning — "grasping or seizing with the mind" — but then came to mean "seize in the name of the law" or "arrest" around the 1540s, a meaning that remains to this day. The word can also be used to suggest an anxious feeling about something about to happen.

Definitions of apprehend
  1. verb
    anticipate with dread or anxiety
    synonyms: quail at
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    type of:
    anticipate, look for, look to
    be excited or anxious about
  2. verb
    understand or perceive the meaning of something
    synonyms: compass, comprehend, dig, get the picture, grasp, grok, savvy
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    catch on, cotton on, get it, get onto, get wise, latch on, tumble, twig
    understand, usually after some initial difficulty
    know or grasp by intuition or feeling
    digest, process
    arrange and integrate in the mind
    type of:
    know and comprehend the nature or meaning of
  3. verb
    take into custody
    synonyms: arrest, collar, cop, nab, nail, pick up
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    type of:
    clutch, prehend, seize
    take hold of; grab
Word Family

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