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


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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 But the recent rise of sophisticated ransomware gangs—professional hackers who freeze major companies’ computer networks in order to extort them—is scrambling the cyber insurance business model. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, 21 July 2021 In a blog post, Bezos accuses AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, of trying to extort him, alleging that AMI threatened to release compromising photos of him. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 28 May 2021 Prosecutors say Treem later wrote an unsolicited letter to U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett, saying that Byrd had cleared Ravenell but was now trying to extort him to recoup money from a gambling investment. Justin Fenton, baltimoresun.com, 24 May 2021 During his interview with Carlson on Tuesday, Gaetz named David McGee, an attorney with Beggs & Lane, as the former DOJ official who was trying to extort him and his family. Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner, 31 Mar. 2021 Hacking groups like DarkSide have reinvented the process through which criminal networks extort victims. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, 14 May 2021 In February, the Justice Department charged three North Koreans of a conspiracy to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency from banks and other businesses. Matt Egan, CNN, 12 May 2021 The hackers, from a Russian-speaking syndicate called DarkSide, steal data before locking up networks to doubly extort victims. Frank Bajak, Star Tribune, 12 May 2021 Ransomware attacks have been on the rise since late 2019, as hackers band together and form cybercriminal gangs to extort companies for payment. Washington Post, 2 July 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

29 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Extort.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extort. Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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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


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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