Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



July 2nd, 2015

Episode 244 of 681 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 02, 2015 is: apprehension \ap-rih-HEN-shun\ noun 1 a : the act or power of perceiving or comprehending b : the result of apprehending mentally : conception 2 : seizure by legal process : arrest 3 : suspicion or fear especially of future evil : foreboding Examples: "Oddly combined with her sharp apprehension was the primitive simplicity of her attitude." Edith Wharton, The Reef, 1912 "Rife with memories of lessons learned and laughter shared and full of hopeful apprehension facing uncertain futures in a big, brave new world, 241 seniors graduated from Princeton Senior High School Friday evening." Tammie Toler, Princeton (West Virginia) Times, June 5, 2015 Did you know? The Latin verb prehendere really grabs our attention. It means "to grasp" or "to seize," and it is an ancestor of various English words. It teamed up with the prefix ad- (which takes the form ap- before p and means "to," "toward," or "near") to form apprehendere, the Latin predecessor of our words apprehension, apprehend, and apprehensive. When prehendere joined the prefix com- ("with," "together," "jointly"), Latin got comprehendere, and English eventually got comprehend, comprehension, and comprehensive. Prehendere also gave us the words comprise, prehensile ("adapted for seizing or grasping"), prison, reprehend, and reprise, among others.