verb \ˈthre-tən\

: to say that you will harm someone or do something unpleasant or unwanted especially in order to make someone do what you want

: to be something that is likely to cause harm to (someone or something) : to be a threat to (someone or something)

threat·enedthreat·en·ing \ˈthret-niŋ, ˈthre-tən-iŋ\

Full Definition of THREATEN

transitive verb
:  to utter threats against
a :  to give signs or warning of :  portend <the clouds threatened rain>
b :  to hang over dangerously :  menace <famine threatens the city>
:  to announce as intended or possible <the workers threatened a strike>
:  to cause to feel insecure or anxious <felt threatened by his brother's success>
intransitive verb
:  to utter threats
:  to portend evil
threat·en·er \ˈthret-nər, ˈthre-tən-ər\ noun
threat·en·ing·ly \ˈthret-niŋ-lē, ˈthre-tən-iŋ-\ adverb

Examples of THREATEN

  1. The mugger threatened him with a gun.
  2. She threatened to quit if they didn't give her a raise, but no one believed her.
  3. Civil war has been threatening the country for years.
  4. a marriage threatened by financial problems
  5. Overfishing threatens the survival of certain fish species.
  6. The latest news threatens trouble for the economy.

First Known Use of THREATEN

13th century

Rhymes with THREATEN


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