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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from extort

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

Synonyms for extort

Synonyms

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 The death touched off a court case after an ambulance driver and his attorney were accused of trying to extort $25 million from the actors in exchange for not releasing sensitive information about their son's death. Jake Coyle, Anchorage Daily News, "Kelly Preston, actor and wife of John Travolta, dies at age 57," 13 July 2020 Blader said Johnson sought to extort the business owners by taking advantage of protests and unrest following the death of George Floyd. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Madison man whose arrest sparked night of violence in capital city is charged with extortion by feds," 26 June 2020 Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you. Emma Dale, Detroit Free Press, "FBI warns West Michigan residents to be cautious of scammers," 26 June 2020 Criminal groups that operate in the border zones are capitalizing on the closure of all seven official border crossings to smuggle migrants in and out of Colombia illegally, extort this poor and vulnerable population and recruit new members. Annette Idler, The Conversation, "Venezuelan migrants face crime, conflict and coronavirus at Colombia’s closed border," 5 June 2020 The cartels are expanding control over their local territories by extorting vulnerable populations and aiding others to gain favor and potential recruits. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Human smugglers stymied by coronavirus find new revenue sources and pose a future threat," 22 May 2020 The United States accused North Korea on Wednesday of employing an array of old and new forms of cyberattacks to steal and launder money, extort companies and use digital currencies to gain cash for its nuclear weapons program. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "U.S. Accuses North Korea of Cyberattacks, a Sign That Deterrence Is Failing," 15 Apr. 2020 The defendants belong to MS-13’s 20th Street Clique, which Anderson said claims a chunk of San Francisco’s Mission District as territory to rob, extort and traffic drugs among other acts of violence. Alejandro Serrano, SFChronicle.com, "Federal grand jury indicts 17 suspected MS-13 members in San Francisco," 13 Mar. 2020 No court has found that Davidson actually extorted anyone. Michael Finnegan, latimes.com, "Trump sex scandals turn a harsh spotlight on this Beverly Hills lawyer," 20 Apr. 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

Time Traveler for extort

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for extort

Last Updated

16 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Extort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extort. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for extort

extort

verb
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).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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