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

Other Words from extort

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

Synonyms for extort


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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 French officials said that Pogba paid 100,000 euros (nearly $100,000) to an organized group including his brother that was trying to extort him for millions more. Jerome Pugmire, ajc, 31 Aug. 2022 Sakoya Blackwood is charged with cyberstalking, extortion, and interstate communications with the intent to extort. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 1 Sep. 2022 Gaudio pled guilty to one count of interstate communication with intent to extort and was given a year's probation and a $10,000 fine. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, 10 Dec. 2021 Records say the 31-year-old man and his girlfriend also tried to extort Summit County Common Pleas Judge Tammy O’Brien’s ex-husband, and sent threats to FBI agents and others, reports Adam Ferrise. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 17 Aug. 2022 In the beginning, cartels were content to extort farmers, packers and exporters – in essence, taxing them for the ability to do business without interference from the cartels. Jeffrey Miller, The Conversation, 28 Feb. 2022 The criminals behind the attacks routinely extort money, with the threat to not only lock up victims’ computer networks, but also to leak sensitive data online if the ransom goes unpaid. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 2 Dec. 2021 The person then allegedly tried to extort Cook for millions of dollars, amid claims that she was injured during the altercation. Scooby Axson, USA TODAY, 9 Nov. 2021 In a San Diego courtroom on Tuesday, a man from Peru told a judge that cartel members are hunting in the area around his shelter for MPP returnees to kidnap and extort. Kate Morrissey, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Aug. 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.

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

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Last Updated

27 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Extort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extort. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for 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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