mi·​na·​to·​ry ˈmi-nə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce minatory (audio) ˈmī- How to pronounce minatory (audio)
: having a menacing quality

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Knowing that minatory means "threatening," can you take a guess at a related word? If you're familiar with mythology, perhaps you guessed Minotaur, the name of the bull-headed, people-eating monster of Crete. Minotaur is a good guess, but as terrifying as the monster sounds, its name isn't related to minatory. The relative we're searching for is actually menace. Minatory and menace both come from derivatives of the Latin verb minari, which means "to threaten." Minatory was borrowed directly from Late Latin minatorius. Menace came to English via Anglo-French manace, menace, which came from Latin minac-, minax, meaning "threatening."

Examples of minatory in a Sentence

the novel's protagonist is haunted by a minatory black specter
Recent Examples on the Web Among the richest of the novel’s many pleasures are just such minor characters, including some irresistibly vain and grasping thespians and the minatory Appleby brothers, talent agents of sorts who shamelessly throw their considerable weight around. Daniel Akst, WSJ, 15 Jan. 2021

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

Word History


borrowed from Late Latin minātōrius, from Latin minor, minārī "to threaten, speak or act menacingly, hold out the threat of" (verbal derivative of minae, plural only, "threats, menaces, portents of evil") + -tōrius, deverbal adjective suffix originally forming derivatives from agent nouns ending in -tōr-, -tor; minae probably, if originally "projecting points, overhang," noun derivative of the verbal base *men- seen in ēminēre "to stick out, protrude," of uncertain origin

Note: Ernout and Meillet (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine) point to a passage in Virgil's Aeneid (4, 88), where minae is taken to mean "projecting parts of a battlement" (pinnae) by the Virgilian commentator Servius ("Minae eminentiae murorum quas pinnas dicunt"). The meaning "threats" in this line is maintained, however, by the Oxford Latin Dictionary (s.v. minae 1). — The min- of minae (and ēminēre, where in any case vowel weakening removes the distinction) may be taken back to *men- if e is regularly raised to i in the environment m_nV, a position taken by M. Weiss (Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin, 2nd edition, Ann Arbor, 2020, p. 148). If such a verb existed, it is evidently without a comparable base in other Indo-European languages. Within Latin, *men- has been compared to mentum "chin" (see mental entry 2) and mont-, mons "mountain" (see mount entry 1). See also eminent, imminent, and prominent. For another offshoot of minārī see demean entry 2.

First Known Use

1532, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of minatory was in 1532


Dictionary Entries Near minatory

Cite this Entry

“Minatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minatory. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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