SKIP TO CONTENT

apprehend

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
    see moresee less
    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
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    figure
    understand
    catch on, cotton on, get it, get onto, get wise, latch on, tumble, twig
    understand, usually after some initial difficulty
    intuit
    know or grasp by intuition or feeling
    digest, process
    arrange and integrate in the mind
    type of:
    understand
    know and comprehend the nature or meaning of
  3. verb
    take into custody
    synonyms: arrest, collar, cop, nab, nail, pick up
    see moresee less
    type of:
    clutch, prehend, seize
    take hold of; grab
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week