What is the difference between apprehension and fear?

apprehension | fear |

Apprehension is a synonym of fear.

As nouns the difference between apprehension and fear

is that apprehension is (rare) the physical act of seizing]] or [[take hold|taking hold of; seizure while fear is (uncountable) a strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.

As a verb fear is

(obsolete|transitive) to cause fear to; to frighten.

As a adjective fear is

(dialectal) able; capable; stout; strong; sound.




  • (rare) The physical act of seizing]] or [[take hold, taking hold of; seizure.
  • * 2006 , Phil Senter, "Comparison of Forelimb Function between Deinonychus'' and ''Babiraptor'' (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridea)", ''Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 26, no. 4 (Dec.), p. 905:
  • The wing would have been a severe obstruction to apprehension of an object on the ground.
  • (legal) The act of seizing or taking by legal process; arrest.
  • * 1855 , , North and South , ch. 37:
  • The warrant had been issued for his apprehension on the charge of rioting.
  • The act of grasping with the intellect; the contemplation of things, without affirming, denying, or passing any judgment; intellection; perception.
  • * 1815 , , "On Life," in A Defence of Poetry and Other Essays (1840 edition):
  • We live on, and in living we lose the apprehension of life.
  • Opinion; conception; sentiment; idea.
  • * 1901 , , Penelope's English Experiences , ch. 8:
  • We think we get a kind of vague apprehension of what London means from the top of a 'bus better than anywhere else.
  • The faculty by which ideas are conceived or by which perceptions are grasped; understanding.
  • * 1854 , , Hard Times , ch. 7:
  • Strangers of limited information and dull apprehension were sometimes observed not to know what a Powler was.
  • Anticipation, mostly of things unfavorable; dread or fear at the prospect of some future ill.
  • * 1846 , , Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life , ch. 32:
  • Every circumstance which evinced the savage nature of the beings at whose mercy I was, augmented the fearful apprehensions that consumed me.
    (Webster 1913)

    Usage notes

    * Apprehension'' springs from a sense of danger when somewhat remote, but approaching; ''alarm'' arises from danger when announced as near at hand. ''Apprehension'' is less agitated and more persistent; ''alarm is more agitated and transient.


    * (anticipation of unfavorable things) alarm


    * inapprehension


    * * Oxford English Dictionary , 2nd ed., 1989.



    Etymology 1

    From (etyl) feer, fere, fer, from (etyl) . The verb is from (etyl) feren, from (etyl) , from the noun.


  • (lb) A strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.
  • *
  • , title=(The Celebrity), chapter=8 , passage=I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed.}}
  • *
  • Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear .
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=18 citation , passage=‘Then the father has a great fight with his terrible conscience,’ said Munday with granite seriousness. ‘Should he make a row with the police
  • (lb) A phobia, a sense of fear induced by something or someone.
  • *
  • Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. The clear light of the bright autumn morning had no terrors for youth and health like hers.
  • (lb) Extreme veneration or awe, as toward a supreme being or deity.
  • * Bible, (w)
  • I will put my fear in their hearts.
  • * Bible, (Psalms)
  • I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
    * , terror, fright * , anxiety, apprehension * (extreme veneration) awe, reverence, veneration * See also
    Derived terms
    * affear * fearful * fearless * fearmonger * fearnaught * fearsome * no fear


  • To cause fear to; to frighten.
  • * :
  • Thenne the knyghte sayd to syre Gawayn / bynde thy wounde or thy blee chaunge / for thou bybledest al thy hors and thy fayre armes // For who someuer is hurte with this blade he shalle neuer be staunched of bledynge / Thenne ansuerd gawayn hit greueth me but lytyl / thy grete wordes shalle not feare me ne lasse my courage
  • * (William Shakespeare) (1564-1616)
  • Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs.
  • (label) To feel fear about (something); to be afraid of; to consider or expect with alarm.
  • * (William Shakespeare) (1564-1616)
  • I greatly fear my money is not safe.
  • *
  • At twilight in the summer there is never anybody to fear —man, woman, or cat—in the chambers and at that hour the mice come out. They do not eat parchment or foolscap or red tape, but they eat the luncheon crumbs.
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-07-19, author= Mark Tran
  • , volume=189, issue=6, page=1, magazine=(The Guardian Weekly) , title= Denied an education by war , passage=One particularly damaging, but often ignored, effect of conflict on education is the proliferation of attacks on schools
  • (lb) To venerate; to feel awe towards.
  • (lb) Regret.
  • (lb) To be anxious or solicitous for.
  • * (William Shakespeare) (1564-1616)
  • The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, thereforeI fear you.
  • (lb) To suspect; to doubt.
  • * (William Shakespeare) (1564-1616)
  • Fear you not her courage?
    * be afraid of, be frightened of, be scared of, be terrorised/terrorized be * (venerate) be in awe of, revere, venerate
    Derived terms
    * fear not * God-fearing * never fear

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) fere, feore, from (etyl) . Related to (l).

    Alternative forms

    * (l)


  • (dialectal) Able; capable; stout; strong; sound.
  • hale and fear