\ ˈthret \

Definition of threat 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
2 : one that threatens
3 : an indication of something impending the sky held a threat of rain


threated; threating; threats

Definition of threat (Entry 2 of 2)


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Examples of threat in a Sentence


He was willing to use violence and threats to get what he wanted. She ignored their threats and continued to do what she felt was right. a country under threat of civil war
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Each of these books reminds us how much the world has changed; each also highlights that influenza is still a real and present threat and demonstrates the power and limitations of modern medicine. William F. Bynum, WSJ, "‘Pandemic 1918’ and ‘Influenza’ Review: Fire, Ice or Virus?," 4 Jan. 2019 The 10-year-old skateboarding prodigy has been a threat from the very beginning. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Sky Brown and J.T. Church Won 'Dancing With the Stars Juniors'," 10 Dec. 2018 The 32-year-old actor, who brought both a credible threat and comic relief to the role of T'Challa's rival M'Baku, says there was some fear in the early days of filming in 2017. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Black Panther Breakout Winston Duke Is Ready to Reset Hollywood," 4 Dec. 2018 The new policy includes more detail about threats and references to violence. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Twitter has banned misgendering or ‘deadnaming’ transgender people," 27 Nov. 2018 The National Trust, along with Landmark Illinois, bought the home via auction in 2003 for $7.5 million, fearful at the time that there was an urgent threat of the home being moved. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rethinking the modern house museum," 12 Oct. 2018 With that also comes an expansion in the number of command and control platforms designed to take intel and turn it into an actionable list of threats and targets. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Air Force Says Its Needs 74 More Squadrons To Do Its Job," 17 Sep. 2018 The hacker accessed their Google Nest baby monitor and broadcast his threats through the device. Sara Rodrigues, House Beautiful, "Smart Light Bulbs Can Expose Your Home To Theft," 19 Dec. 2018 But in the face of this existential threat, cities also present the best places to curb emissions: Though urban areas generate 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide, that also makes them a good place to start making a difference. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "As cities confront climate change, is density the answer?," 11 Dec. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'threat.' 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 threat


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for threat


Middle English thret coercion, threat, from Old English thrēat coercion; akin to Middle High German drōz annoyance, Latin trudere to push, thrust

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Statistics for threat

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for threat

The first known use of threat was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for threat



English Language Learners Definition of threat

: a statement saying you will be harmed if you do not do what someone wants you to do

: someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.

: the possibility that something bad or harmful could happen


\ ˈthret \

Kids Definition of threat

1 : the act of showing an intention to do harm
2 : someone or something that threatens the threat of punishment



Legal Definition of threat 

: an expression of an intention to injure another : menace sense 1 criminal laws against making terroristic threats

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More from Merriam-Webster on threat

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with threat

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for threat

Spanish Central: Translation of threat

Nglish: Translation of threat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of threat for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about threat

Comments on threat

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marked by shyness and lack of polish

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