extort

verb
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 extort (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for extort

Synonyms

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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

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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 The scammers later attempt to extort money from victims by threatening to post the content online. Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2022 Unionizing legislative staffers is a nakedly political power grab to extort money from staff to fill the campaign coffers of lawmakers and elect only those the union likes. Jason Dudash, National Review, 21 Mar. 2022 Scammers are impersonating law enforcement and government officials, in an effort to extort money and personal information, the FBI warns. Luke Barr, ABC News, 9 Mar. 2022 The abuse often accompanies efforts to extort money from families before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on traffickers’ boats. Samy Magdy, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Dec. 2021 Earlier this year, the country’s principal fuel terminal was blocked by gangs that attempted to extort money from the government and force Mr. Henry to resign. Anthony Harrup, WSJ, 15 Dec. 2021 Ransomware hackers, seeking to extort money, often not only try to lock up victims’ computers, but also to steal potentially sensitive information and threaten to leak it on the dark web if they’re not paid. NBC News, 2 Dec. 2021 The abuse often accompanies efforts to extort money from families before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on traffickers' boats. Samy Magdy, Star Tribune, 21 July 2021 Gaither pleaded guilty in August to federal charges of murder-for-hire conspiracy, interstate communications with intent to extort, and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and heroin. Tim Prudente, baltimoresun.com, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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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Time Traveler for extort

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near extort

extorsive

extort

extortion

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Statistics for extort

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Extort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extort. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for extort

extort

transitive verb
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 extort (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

More from Merriam-Webster on extort

Nglish: Translation of extort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extort for Arabic Speakers

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