When the police pick up someone matching a description of a suspected criminal, that is an example of apprehend.
- to take into custody; capture or arrest
- to take hold of mentally; perceive; understand
- to anticipate with fear or alarm: now rare, except in legal usage
- Obs. to seize
Origin of apprehendMiddle English apprehenden from Late Latin apprehendere, to understand from L, to take hold of from ad-, to + prehendere: see prehensile
verbap·pre·hend·ed, ap·pre·hend·ing, ap·pre·hends
- To take into custody; arrest: apprehended the murderer.
- To grasp mentally; understand: “Science is the systematic method by which we apprehend what is true about the real world in which we live” ( Richard Dawkins ) See Synonyms at understand.
- To become conscious of, as through the emotions or senses; perceive: “She began to look with her own eyes; to see and to apprehend the deeper undercurrents of life” ( Kate Chopin )
- Archaic To anticipate with worry or dread.
Origin of apprehendMiddle English apprehenden from Old French apprehender from Latin apprehendere to seize ad- ad- prehendere to grasp ; see ghend- in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present apprehends, present participle apprehending, simple past and past participle apprehended)
- (archaic) To take or seize; to take hold of.
- To take or seize (a person) by legal process; to arrest.
- to apprehend a criminal.
- To take hold of with the understanding, that is, to conceive in the mind; to become cognizant of; to understand; to recognize; to consider.
- To anticipate; especially, to anticipate with anxiety, dread, or fear; to fear.
- (intransitive) To think, believe, or be of opinion; to understand; to suppose.
- (intransitive) To be apprehensive; to fear.
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 apprehend 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 apprehend 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)