menace

1 of 2

noun

men·​ace ˈme-nəs How to pronounce menace (audio)
1
: a show of intention to inflict harm : threat
exploding in menaces and threats of vengeanceGeorge Meredith
2
a
: one that represents a threat : danger
the intoxicated motorist is a menace to life and limbWayne Hughes
b
: an annoying person
her friends were beginning to find her a menaceGuy McCrone

menace

2 of 2

verb

menaced; menacing

transitive verb

1
: to make a show of intention to harm
menaced him with immediate expulsionG. B. Shaw
2
: to represent or pose a threat to : endanger
menaced by a group of toughs after his car goes kaputLeah Rozen

intransitive verb

: to act in a threatening manner
The bear menaced with its mouth wide open.

Examples of menace in a Sentence

Noun There was an atmosphere of menace in the city. She could hear the menace in his voice. Verb menaced the children by leaving them in the car unattended stockpiles of nuclear weapons that continue to menace the inhabitants of this planet
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Well, if being a menace to television wasn’t enough, Donald Glover’s innovative and/or questionable style heads to the big screen. Vulture, 14 Sep. 2023 More accurately, boorish people who ride them are a menace. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 13 Sep. 2023 Paint your favorite big-screen menace onto sharp stiletto nails for a truly terrifying Halloween treat. Ariana Yaptangco, ELLE, 30 Aug. 2023 During five-and-half hours of public comments at Thursday’s meeting, many speakers derided the robotaxis as annoying nuisances at best and dangerous menaces at worst. Michael Liedtke, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Aug. 2023 But just as frequently — and clearly more consciously of the precious budget — the menace stems from banal outposts of the bygone civilization. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 26 July 2023 Its claustrophobic confines feature both resplendent, symphonic color and form, and an atmosphere of choking menace. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Sep. 2023 This malware has been a menace for businesses and agencies for ages. Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, 2 Sep. 2023 The proliferation of Nazi bad guys allowed for the continuation of that practice, in a somewhat hypocritical way: Wagner could deliver his thrilling orchestral charge to action scenes even as he was being demonized as a Teutonic menace. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2023
Verb
Providing for Ukraine’s defense — and, in so doing, diminishing Russia’s capacity to menace Europe and to divert U.S. resources in the process — is vastly preferable to the alternative. The Editors, National Review, 20 Sep. 2023 New Yorkers, who were already menaced by Ghostface this year, just can't catch a break. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 26 Aug. 2023 Chávez said his agents have yet to see the latest threat menacing many parts of the country — fentanyl mixed with xylazine. Claire Ballor, Dallas News, 2 Sep. 2023 Climate change menaces the rivers that turn dams; moreover, hydro faces economic competition from ever cheaper solar and wind power. IEEE Spectrum, 1 Sep. 2023 And yet the world is growing both more unpredictable and more fragile, as terrorists find new ways to menace societies with intelligent, evolving cyberweapons and white-collar workers lose their jobs en masse. Ian Bremmer and Mustafa Suleyman, Foreign Affairs, 16 Aug. 2023 President Joe Biden’s supporters don’t appear to be truly menaced by Cornel West’s decision to seek and likely secure the Green Party’s nomination for the presidency. Noah Rothman, National Review, 17 July 2023 Women, of course, were most obviously menaced by society’s simplifications. James Wood, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 Most of the half-dozen major Florida airports that shut down operations when the massive storm was menacing the state reopened for business. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'menace.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English manace "act of threatening, threat, exposure to a threat," borrowed from Anglo-French manace, manance (also continental Old French manace, menace), going back to Latin mināciae (plural only) "threats" (Late Latin in singular), noun derivative of mināc-, mināx "menacing, threatening, boding ill," from minārī "to threaten, speak or act menacingly" + -āc-, -āx, deverbal suffix denoting habitual or successful performance (probably going back to Indo-European *-eh2, noun ending + *-k-, suffixal formative) — more at minatory

Note: The English spelling menace, in use since the 16th century, most likely copies Modern French.

Verb

Middle English manacen, manessen, manauncen, borrowed from Anglo-French manacer, manacier, going back to Vulgar Latin *mināciāre, noun derivative of Late Latin minācia "threat" — more at menace entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of menace was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near menace

Cite this Entry

“Menace.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/menace. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition

menace

1 of 2 noun
men·​ace ˈmen-əs How to pronounce menace (audio)
1
: someone or something that represents a threat : danger
2
: an annoying person : nuisance

menace

2 of 2 verb
menaced; menacing
1
: to make a show of intention to harm : threaten
2
menacingly adverb

Legal Definition

menace

1 of 2 noun
men·​ace ˈme-nəs How to pronounce menace (audio)
1
: a show of an intention to inflict especially physical harm
accomplished against a person's will by means of force,…menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injuryCalifornia Penal Code
2
: one who represents a threat

menace

2 of 2 verb
menaced; menacing

transitive verb

1
: to make a show of intention to harm
2
: to represent or pose a threat to

intransitive verb

: to act in a threatening manner
menacingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on menace

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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