ex·​tort | \ ik-ˈstȯrt How to pronounce extort (audio) \
extorted; extorting; extorts

Definition of extort

transitive verb

: to obtain from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or illegal power : wring also : to gain especially by ingenuity or compelling argument

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Other Words from extort

extorter noun
extortive \ ik-​ˈstȯr-​tiv How to pronounce extortive (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for extort


exact, wrest, wring

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Choose the Right Synonym for extort

educe, evoke, elicit, extract, extort mean to draw out something hidden, latent, or reserved. educe implies the bringing out of something potential or latent. educed order out of chaos evoke implies a strong stimulus that arouses an emotion or an interest or recalls an image or memory. a song that evokes warm memories elicit usually implies some effort or skill in drawing forth a response. careful questioning elicited the truth extract implies the use of force or pressure in obtaining answers or information. extracted a confession from him extort suggests a wringing or wresting from one who resists strongly. extorted their cooperation by threatening to inform

Did You Know?

To extort is literally to wrench something out of someone. Extortion is a mainstay of organized crime. Just as the school bully extorts lunch money from the smaller kids in exchange for not beating them up, thugs extort "protection" money from business owners with threats of violence. But that's only one kind of extortion; a mobster might extort favors from a politician with threats of revealing some dark secret, just as you might extort a favor from a brother or sister by promising not to tell on them.

Examples of extort in a Sentence

The criminals extorted large sums of money from their victims. He was arrested for extorting bribes.

Recent Examples on the Web

In 2012, Mijango mediated a negotiation between Arrocera San Francisco, a food distribution company, and the gangs who were extorting it. Daniel Castro, Harper's magazine, "The Truce," 10 June 2019 Separately, Cullerton has been the subject of subpoenas from federal investigators seeking records related to an ongoing criminal investigation of Teamsters boss John Coli Sr., who allegedly extorted $100,000 in cash from a local business. Jason Grotto, ProPublica, "Illinois Video Gambling Tax Hike Will Be Decided by Lawmakers With Financial Ties to the Industry," 10 June 2019 Her mother was being threatened and extorted by gangs, and Ms. Castillo wanted a better life for herself. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Fleeing Poverty and Violence, Central American Women Explain Why They Join Caravans," 4 Dec. 2018 Jesse is one of thousands of people across the country who California prosecutors say have been extorted by Mugshots.com. Samantha Schmidt, chicagotribune.com, "Owners of Mugshots.com accused of extortion: They attempted 'to profit off of someone else's humiliation'," 18 May 2018 Also in his plea agreement, Wade admitted to scheming with Jerome Walter Stephens, the owner of a Baltimore construction and utilities company, to extort contractors. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore transportation supervisor admits to taking bribes in federal extortion case," 17 Mar. 2018 And some gangs have even taken to extorting money from local governments by forcing them to sign inflated public works contracts. Washington Post, "2 mayoral candidates killed in Mexico, 18 dead so far," 21 June 2018 As recently as 2014, dockworkers’ union officials pleaded guilty to extorting money from their own members on behalf of the Genovese crime family, Mr. Arsenault said in an affidavit in the case. Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "Judge Blocks New Jersey From Backing Out of Waterfront Commission," 4 June 2018 The governor especially unloaded on the New York Times, which has its own sterling history of extorting tax breaks and zoning exceptions from the city and state. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Amazon Fiasco Splits New York’s Left," 17 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extort.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of extort

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for extort

Latin extortus, past participle of extorquēre to wrench out, extort, from ex- + torquēre to twist — more at torture entry 1

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Statistics for extort

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for extort

The first known use of extort was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for extort



English Language Learners Definition of extort

: to get (something, such as money) from a person by the use of force or threats
ex·​tort | \ ik-ˈstȯrt How to pronounce extort (audio) \

Legal Definition of extort

: to obtain (as money) from a person by force, intimidation, or undue or unlawful use of authority or power

Other Words from extort

extorter noun
extortive \ -​ˈstȯr-​tiv How to pronounce extortive (audio) \ adjective

History and Etymology for extort

Latin extortus, past participle of extorquere to remove by twisting, obtain by force, from ex- out + torquere to twist

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More from Merriam-Webster on extort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with extort

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for extort

Spanish Central: Translation of extort

Nglish: Translation of extort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extort for Arabic Speakers

Comments on extort

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behavior toward others

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