\ ˈthret How to pronounce threat (audio) \

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

Noun 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 Nashville has progressed to the point where it can reasonably be seen as an Eastern Conference threat in 2021. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 24 July 2021 The operation integrates law enforcement and deploys them to high-threat areas to combat smugglers moving drugs and people into the state. Bill Melugin, Fox News, 23 July 2021 People who don't believe the virus is a real threat change their minds when the infection hits their community, their neighbors, their families, said Mukherjee. Maggie Fox, CNN, 23 July 2021 The day after Ramos was killed, Flores received a phone threat. Mark Stevenson, ajc, 23 July 2021 President Joe Biden called his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, afterward to press him to stop providing safe haven for cybercriminals whose costly attacks the US government deems a national security threat., 22 July 2021 Amid delta’s threat, climbing COVID cases and slowing vaccination rates, here’s what to know about the new research developments. Lizzy Lawrence,, 22 July 2021 The pandemic is hardly the world’s only major threat. Washington Post, 22 July 2021 And there is always something outside the athletic realm to worry about like a terrorism threat in Athens, censorship in Beijing, Zika virus in Rio (I was vaccinated before those Games, too) and traffic everywhere. Jeff Metcalfe, The Arizona Republic, 22 July 2021

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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Time Traveler for threat

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

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Last Updated

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Threat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce threat (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on threat

Nglish: Translation of threat for Spanish Speakers

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


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