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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from extort

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

Synonyms for extort


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 this case, Trump is accused of what appears to be a much more serious abuse of the power of his office to extort a foreign leader into acting in the President’s personal interest, rather than the national interest. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "Crazy for Trump: On the G.O.P. Plan to Keep Impeachment Partisan," 14 Nov. 2019 How could Zelensky feel unthreatened yet be extorted? Deroy Murdock, National Review, "Impeachment Agitates Partisan Passions," 10 Nov. 2019 Often, they are coaxed or coerced into sending nude or compromising photos of themselves to predators, whom then use that material to extort more sordid contacts, beginning a worsening spiral of abuse. Charlie Campbell / Tokyo, Time, "The Sexual Exploitation of Young Girls in Japan Is 'On the Increase,' an Expert Says," 29 Oct. 2019 The group got organized -- extorting locals, robbing banks, aiming for ever larger attacks, and eventually declaring their caliphate. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "How ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became a feared preacher of hate," 27 Oct. 2019 Courts refused to accept confessions that might have been extorted by torture. National Geographic, "A royal obsession with black magic started Europe's most brutal witch hunts," 16 Oct. 2019 Authorities have said Valladares was kidnapped from his home in Conroe, north of Houston, as part of an attempt to extort money from his brother. Washington Post, "Feds decline to charge FBI agent who killed kidnap victim," 4 Sep. 2019 None other than Radiohead themselves, who did it to undercut someone trying to extort the band for $150,000 to keep the songs offline. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Telegram Says China Is Behind DDoS," 15 June 2019 He has been charged with interstate communications with intent to extort — threat to injure. Allie Gross, Detroit Free Press, "Novi man arrested; allegedly threatened CNN employees for 'fake news'," 23 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about extort

Statistics for extort

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for extort

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for extort


How to pronounce extort (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on extort

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for extort

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with extort

Spanish Central: Translation of extort

Nglish: Translation of extort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of extort for Arabic Speakers

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 speed up the process or progress of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!