ex·tort | \ik-ˈstȯrt \
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 \ 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

One of them, David Schnare, has been accused by his former allies of botching the group’s tax-exempt status and of attempting to extort a quarter-million dollars from its coffers. John Schwartz, New York Times, "He Sues to Discredit Climate Scientists. Now He’s Being Sued by His Allies.," 11 July 2018 Teenagers manned checkpoints with rifles slung over their shoulders and extorted passersby. Joshua Partlow, Anchorage Daily News, "Separated and deported: A father's story," 26 June 2018 The indictment among other things alleges the four conspired to rob or attempt to rob Walmart stores, and attempted to extort Canadian National Railway by threatening to damage tracks if the railroad didn't pay ransom. Fox News, "Mosque bombing suspects, 1 other face additional charges," 2 May 2018 Kveton alleged Upham extorted him with a $1.5 million settlement demand, made frivolous legal arguments, filed multiple lawsuits with similar accusations, and refused to produce documents during legal discovery. Mike Rogoway, OregonLive.com, "Oregon State Bar investigates former Washington County district attorney," 30 Apr. 2018 Jackson's testimony bolstered Cosby's efforts to show Constand made up the allegations against him to extort a big civil settlement. Bloomberg.com, "The Latest: Accuser Calls Bill Cosby 'A Raping Monster'," 26 Apr. 2018 Complicating matters, shadowy militias, often made up of off-duty and retired police officers, also operate in the slums, say human-rights groups that accuse them of extorting money and carrying out extrajudicial killings. Samantha Pearson And Luciana Magalhaes, WSJ, "Killing of Woman Who Gave Voice to Rio’s Poor Jars a Divided Brazil," 25 Mar. 2018 In 1988, Gerald Pfeiffer, the director of the maritime division, pleaded guilty to extorting bribes and political contributions from boat owners for permits. Morgan Greene, chicagotribune.com, "Where have the boats gone from Monroe Harbor, rest of Chicago lakefront?," 5 July 2018 Their 'preparation' predominantly consisted of coaxing players out of retreating back home, or otherwise eloping elsewhere, whilst simultaneously being extorted over team selection. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 6 Weeks to Go - The Own Goal That Killed Andres Escobar," 13 May 2018

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

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

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Statistics for extort

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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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 \

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 \ adjective

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Comments on extort

What made you want to look up extort? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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