verb threat·en \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\
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>
defined for English-language learners
Examples of THREATEN
- The mugger threatened him with a gun.
- She threatened to quit if they didn't give her a raise, but no one believed her.
- Civil war has been threatening the country for years.
- a marriage threatened by financial problems
- Overfishing threatens the survival of certain fish species.
- The latest news threatens trouble for the economy.
First Known Use of THREATEN
: to show an intention to do harm or something unwanted <He threatened to quit.>
: to give warning of by an indication <The clouds threatened rain.>
— threat·en·ing·ly adverb
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