\ 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


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

Many of us who are not white have experiences of being under threat. Sarah Parvini, Los Angeles Times, "Family separation and refugee cap reinvigorate Jews’ activist roots: ‘We’ve always been immigrants’," 17 Sep. 2019 The site visit to a Jordanian police facility concluded that dogs were under constant threat of parvo, a deadly gastrointestinal illness, and were worked well past their retirement age, the report found. oregonlive, "U.S. officials knew bomb-sniffing dogs were dying from neglect in Jordan. They sent more.," 16 Sep. 2019 In its 72nd year of independence Israel is under no existential threat and enjoys an unrivaled military advantage and technological superiority. Gilead Sher, Time, "Netanyahu's Defense Treaty with Trump Is a Bad Idea. Just as Well It's Only a Gimmick," 16 Sep. 2019 His absence could impact Indiana’s play-calling options with Peyton Ramsey not being the dual-threat that Penix Jr. is. Stephen Means,, "Ohio State football’s run defense and Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr.'s availability are major keys in Big Ten opener: Game-Time Decisions," 14 Sep. 2019 Indy-area roundup: Scores, stats and highlights from Week 4 Orin Edwards, Cathedral: The dual-threat quarterback completed 15-of-28 passes for 226 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Camden Jordan to grab the lead in the fourth quarter. Matthew Glenesk, Indianapolis Star, "Vote for the Indy-area high school football top performer from Week 4," 14 Sep. 2019 The dank and dark Cooper Mine at Old Newgate Prison becomes a winter refuge for a certain bat species that remains under threat from a deadly disease. Dennis Hohenberger,, "Bat Day At Old Newgate Prison Highlights Threat To Species," 12 Sep. 2019 Just about everybody who’s grown up in Alabama did so under threat, in spring and in fall, of nature trying to kill us. al, "Life in a time of Fake Weather," 11 Sep. 2019 That’s especially true now that the star playmakers of those systems — dual-threat quarterbacks — are becoming not only more en vogue, but wildly sought-after franchise saviors. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Dual-threat quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson could be 'the future of football'," 11 Sep. 2019

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

3 Oct 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 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

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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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a bell tower

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