empty threat


: a threat that someone does not really mean
Don't make empty threats that you have no intention of backing up with action.
… the Witch of the West looks, in this scene anyhow, curiously frail and impotent, obliged to mouth empty threatsSalman Rushdie

Examples of empty threat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Friday's announcement is the latest in a series of empty threats by ECOWAS to forcefully restore democratic rule in Niger, say conflict analysts. Sam Mednick, BostonGlobe.com, 19 Aug. 2023 The ban wasn’t an empty threat or an isolated incident. Yusuf Khan, WSJ, 1 June 2023 Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber rattling during the war has alarmed the US and its allies, though officials have repeatedly dismissed the moves as empty threats. Nectar Gan, CNN, 23 Feb. 2023 It’s used them highly successfully without firing them, by trading on empty threats about potential nuclear strikes to very effectively deter the West from fully supporting Ukraine against Russia’s imperialist war. Keir Giles, CNN, 30 Mar. 2023 But make no mistake about it: that idea is a myth, an empty threat constantly laid down by millionaires across the country looking for a way to discourage state lawmakers from raising their taxes. David Nixon, Fortune, 22 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'empty threat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Dictionary Entries Near empty threat

Cite this Entry

“Empty threat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empty%20threat. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

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